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RoifnWiawati, Ov£r Bndee, JODHPOR 
i, p 25I35S0, 3b90230 

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First published by Penguin Books India 2004 

Copyright © Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra 2004 

All rights reserved 
10 98765432 

The poem ‘I Sit Alone’ by Walter de la Mare is quoted by kind permission of The Litcraiy Trustees of 
Walter de la Mare and The Societ)' of Authors as their representatives; ‘Mrs Reece Laughs’ by Martin 
Armstrong is quoted by permission of PFD ( on behalf of the Estate of Martin Armstrong. 
The poem ‘In Memory of Shelley Wang’ is quoted by kind permission of Dr J.K. Millar. 

All photographs courtesy Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Fund 

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Editor’s Note 

Introduction by Sonia Gandhi ix 

Jawaharlal Nehru’s and Indira Gandhi’s Kinship and xxi 

Political Circles, and Circle of Friends 
Journeys Undertaken by Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira xxviii 

Gandhi between 1922 and 1963 
List of Prison Terms xxxii 

Family Trees xxxiv 

PART ONE (1922-1939) 

Section I; Growing Up (1922—1936) 3 

Section II: Indira Comes Into Her Own (1937-1939) 155 

PART TWO (1940-1964) 

Preface to Part Two 249 

The Political Setting of the Early 1940s 251 

Section I: Homecoming (1940-1942) 253 

Section II: Prison Walls (1942-1945) 337 

Section III: Towards Freedom (1945—1946) 491 

Section IV: In the Prime Minister’s House 511 


Postscript 591 

Appendix: Indira’s Reading in 1932 593 

Index 594 

editor's note 

The letters between Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi were originally 
published in Britain more than ten years ago, in two separate volumes, 
Freedom’s Daughter and Two Alone, Two Together.Thh book abridges the 
two earlier volumes into one, with a view to making them more accessible 
to a wide readership in India. 

The letters have lost nothing of their essence in this abridgement. 
Every letter of biographical and historical interest has been retained. 
Letters of a more routine or ephemeral nature have been left out, while 
others have been shortened by deleting repetitions, passing references to 
family members, and humdrum details about matters such as travel plans, 
dates on which letters were sent and received, and the like. Indeed, I 
believe this pruning has brought the personalities and literary styles of 
Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi into sharper focus. 


Indira Gandhi occupies a very special place in twentieth century history. 
She presided over the destiny of India for sixteen years as Prime Minister. 
One of her distinguishing attributes was a special concern for the very 
poor. She possessed great intellect, a rational perception and an acute 
understanding of peoples and problems. Above all, Indira Gandhi was 
gifted with a great sensitivity to Nature and the arts. These quahties 
went together with a formidable will and a physical and moral courage 
of rare quaUty.Yet, in spite of her innumerable achievements and her 
place in history, she was a very private person and, perhaps because of 
this, much misunderstood. To the very few who were close to her she 
was a most concerned and loving human being. 

Part One of this volume covers the correspondence between Indira 
Gandhi andjawaharlal Nehru from the years 1922 to 1939 and shows us 
the changing relationship between father and daughter. Part Two covers 
the years from 1940 to 1964. My Preface to Part Two, on page 249 sets 
the personal and political context for the letters written during this 
period. The letters throw new light on Indira Gandhi’s character and 
personality and on how these developed from a very early stage. 

In order to fully understand these letters, it is necessary to say a few 
words about the family into which Indira Gandhi was born.The Nehrus 
had migrated from Kashmir to the city of Delhi in the eighteenth century 
to serve in the Mughal court. Their fortunes were adversely affected 
during the Uprising of 1857, also known as the Indian Mutiny. They 
were obliged to take shelter in Agra, then moved to Kanpur and ultimately 
to Allahabad. Motilal Nehru, grandfather of Indira Gandhi, earned for 
himself a position of eminence as a lawyer as well as a nationahst. His 
son,Jawaharlal Nehru, went to Harrow and Cambridge and was called 
to the Bar from the Inner Temple. On his return, a legal career did not 
seem to absorb him.The stormy happenings of the time fascinated liim 
much more. He participated in political gatherings.When a local chapter 
of the Home Rule League launched by Annie Besant opened in Allahabad 
during the First World War, he was immediately drawn into what was 



then the most militant manifestation of nationahsm within India. 

In 1916 Jawaharlal Nehru married Kamala Kaul.The Kauls, like the 
Nehrus, were Kashmiris. Though tliey lacked the social prominence 
which Motilals successes had brought to his family, they were greatly 
respected in their community. Kamala Nehru was seventeen when she 
came to Anand Bhawan.The cultural environment of her family home 
had been much less westernised than that of her in-laws. This called for 
a good measure of adjustment by the young bride. However, Kamala 
possessed great inner strength and resiUence. Between Kamala and her 
husband there gradually grew deep affection and understanding. She 
was to die young. Nehru s feelings for her were expressed in his 
autobiography which was dedicated ‘To Kamala who is no more’. 

No account of the family would be complete if it did not dwell 
upon Motilal Nehru.To outsiders, Motilal Nehru was the heroic public 
figure whose standing in the legal profession and in the nationalist struggle 
had earned for him a place among a select few in India. To the members 
of his family, he was a loving husband and a father who doted on his son, 
Jawaharlal, as well as his daughters,Vijaya Lakshmi and Krishna. 

The birth ofhis first grandchild in 1917 filled Motilal with joy. ‘This 
girl is going to be worth more than a thousand grandsons,’ he observed 
with pride.Throughout the remaining years ofhis life, young Indira had 
a special place in his heart. Swarup Rani, Motilal Nehru’s wife, who was 
‘Dol Amma’ to Indira, completed, along with Jawaharlal ’s two sisters, the 
inner circle of the large household. 

While Indira Priyadarshini (as she was called by her father), was stiU 
very young the family came under the influence of Mahatma Gandhi. 
This changed their lives dramatically. Sensitive and observant Indira, 
who was an only child, grew up in an environment from which her 
father, grandfather and mother could be suddenly taken away for long 
periods to ‘the other home’ — prison. Fortunately for her, even in the 
midst of such happenings there was time for the tender written dialogue 
which so powerfiilly shaped her personality. 

Jawaharlal Nehru strongly believed that his daughter should grow up 
in a milieu which would increase her critical faculties and widen the 
range of her intellectual interests. He held the view that a liberal education 
through formal and informal channels was the best possible basis for 
shaping young minds. It is this belief and his concern for his daughter 
which prompted him to write to her a series of letters on the history of 
the world. These were later published as a book entitled Glimpses of 
World History. 



The fact that Indira Gandhi grew up in an intensely political family 
where participation in pubhc life was taken as a natural order of things, 
instilled in her a strong sense of commitment to the struggle for freedom. 
In the early 1920s, Mahatma Gandhi launched a Satyagraha, or non- 
cooperation movement, against the British Government. It was at this 
time that the first arrests, already referred to, were carried out in Anand 
Bhawan.The policy of the Congress was not to pay the fines imposed 
by the British Government. As a result, the police would often visit the 
house to realise the fines by taking away valuables and attaching properties. 
Indira observed with great interest the stir around her. Her receptive 
young mind took stock of everything and she was much affected by the 
manner in which her family sacrificed its possessions and comforts for 
the country’s liberty. A glimpse of how deterrmned she was not to be 
left out of any activity connected with the fight for freedom comes 
through to us in an incident which took place when she was five years 
old. As a part of the boycott of foreign textiles, Motilal and Jawaharlal 
decided to have a huge fire of imported clothes and materials in Anand 
Bhawan. Indira asked her father for permission to be present. Jawaharlal 
did not give his consent since the bonfire was to be ht very late at night, 
when it was time for children to be asleep. However, she had decided to 
have her way.T did not take it lying down and went to my grandfather,’ 
she later recalled. ‘I told him that whatever the circumstances, I would 
go to the bonfire.’ He promised to take her with him. Perhaps Motilal 
Nehru discerned in his grandchild’s temperament a reflection of his 
own firmness and willpower. 

In 1926 Jawaharlal, Kamala and other members of the family 
journeyed to Europe with Indira. After a period of travelling, Jawaharlal 
thought it appropriate to enrol his daughter, who was nine years old, as 
a pupil in the International School in Geneva and then in Ecole NouveUe 
in nearby Bex. The latter was run by Mile L. HemmerHn. Later in fife, 
while reminiscing about her student. Mile Hemmerlin touched upon 
the extent to which the movement for frberating India had left a mark 
upon the young child: 

She greeted e\'erybody with a winning smile and was very popular among 
her companions . . . Indira had a clear outlook about her country and a 
firm will to free it from foreign power . . . 

She often pronounced the name of Gandhi . . . She told us why he had 
fasted with risk to his life and how non-violent resistance was more 
powerful than hatred or weapons . . . 



The political education which Indira received in the first few years 
of her life was reinforced by her experience of the next phase of the 
nationahst agitation in India in the 1930s. This was triggered off by the 
adoption of a resolution in 1929 by the Indian National Congress under 
the presidentship of Jawaharlal Nehru. The objective of the freedom 
struggle was defined as Puma Swaraj — complete independence as 
opposed to Dominion Status, favoured by a section of the Congress. 
She, in later years, was to recount with pride how she had been asked by 
her father to read out to him the ‘Pledge of Independence’ which he 
had drafted and how deeply moved she had been by this experience. 

Indira’s early education had been unconventional. Jawaharlal Nehru 
in 1931 decided to send her to the Pupils’ Own School at Poona, near 
Bombay. The school had been opened by a young couple, the Vakils, 
with a view to creating in children an awareness of their cultural heritage. 
In dir a spent three years there. As in the school at Bex, both her teachers 
and schoolmates were struck by her quiet air of confidence and her 
eagerness to help those around her. Her flair for leadership became 
evident during her time at school. Indira was the President of the Sahitya 
Sabha, a literary society; she was editor of the school magazine and 
‘chief justice’ of the school committee. Her letters fi-om Poona during 
the early thirties were full of accounts of contemporary events, revealing 
the deep impression they made on her. In September 1932, Mahatma 
Gandhi, who had earher been imprisoned in Yeravda Jail, near Poona, 
embarked upon a fast unto death in protest against the British attempt 
to create a separate electoral identity for the untouchable community. 
Indira wrote to her father; 

On 20th September when Bapu began his fast we all fasted here and had 
prayers.We also entered a new pupil. Of course pupils are entered nearly 
every week but this was a new kind — one, like whom we have never had 
before. Can you guess who she was? She was the daughter of our 
mehatrani — ^an untouchable. Of course she is to be taught free of charge 
. . . She is five years old and her name was Ura, but we had changed it to 
Urvashi . . . 

In her letter dated 27th September we can see how intensely she 
shared Gandhiji’s ordeal during his epic fast of September 1932. She 
sent her father a daily account of it. 

Bapu rws looking very cheerful and certainly much better than yesterday. 



Yesterday he was very bad and the doctors were very anxious. 

She also wrote to her father about the manner in which the fast was 

At noon the Superintendent gave the good news that the telegram was 
on Its way to Poona. Padmaja, Mummy and I rushed to the market and 
got the best oranges and other fruit that we could get. When we got 
back, we found that there was yet some time for the telegram to come, 
so we waited and each rmnute seemed an hour. When at last the telegram 
came Bapu said that he would not break his fast, till Dr Ambedkar had 
heard the contents of the telegram and agreed to them. Dr Ambedkar 
was in Bombay, and it would have taken quite a lot of time for him to 
come. And it was nearly five o’clock and Bapu does not eat anything 
after six. So everybody, including Dr Tagore and the jail authorities, 
persuaded him not to wait for Dr Ambedkar. So immediately I prepared 
the juice of two oranges for him.Then Dr Tagore sang a Bengali hymn 
and the Ashram people sang Bapu’s favourite bhajan ‘VaishnavJan’.Then 
Bapu drank the juice and everybody was given fruit and sweets as prasad. 
Then we all went home happy after an anxious day. 

Today I am in an extra good mood, for I think that it is the happiest 
day we have had for a very long time. It is Bapu’s sixty-fourth birthday 
and he has begun eating fruit and he is much better than before. 

After Indira’s schooling in Poona was completed, Jawaharlal Nehru 
decided to send her to Santiniketan in Bengal. The poet Rabindranath 
Tagore had started a unique centre of learning, where gifted scholars 
and artists were gathered to teach. They encouraged the students to 
explore the intellectual and artistic world around them.The presence of 
Rabindranath Tagore was a source of inspiration to Indira and it made 
an indehble impact on her. 

Soon after her arrival there she wrote: 

I had better give you my opinion of die place. As yet I have only seen the 
girls’ hostel and the office and have had a glimpse of the Library and 
Kala Bhavan. Everything is so artistic and beautiful and wild. 

Indira’s stay at Santiniketan was indeed an experience which enriched 
and transformed her. In a letter which she wrote to her father some 
time later she said: 



I was glad of my stay in Santiniketan — chiefly because of Gurudev. In 
the very atmosphere there, his spirit seemed to roam and hover over one 
and follow one with a loving though deep watchfulness. And this spirit, 

I feel, has greatly influenced my life and thought . . . 

Jawaharkl Nehru spent about a decade in various prisons in nine 
spells between 1921 and 1945. While in jail, the pain of isolation and 
separation from those he loved imposed on him a deep moral and 
psychological strain. ‘Priyadarshini, dear to the sight,’ he wrote to Indira 
from prison in 1933, ‘but dearer still when sight is denied.’ 

Equally touching were the letters which Indira wrote to her father 
while he was away: 

Ever since early this morning we were all waiting impatiendy for your 
letter . . .But when the postman came we were very much disappointed. 
Anyhow I hope it will come soon — perhaps tomorrow . . . 

It will soon be your birthday — on the Nth . . . AU day we wiU be 
thinking of you. Of course I always am — ^but that day you wiU be more 
m my mmd . . . 

In 1934, Kamala’s health suddenly deteriorated. Indira was therefore 
obliged to cut short her studies in Santiniketan. Kamala had been unwell 
earlier, in the twenties, but a course of treatment in Europe in 1926 had 
helped her considerably. Since Jawaharlal Nehru was in jail, Indira 
accompanied her mother to a sanatorium in Bhowali in the Himalayas. 
Later, she travelled with Kamala to Badenweiler in Germany, where the 
doctors had advised treatment. At Badenweiler Kamala’s condition 
became so serious that Jawaharlal Nehru, too, was released from jail to 
enable him to be by her side. We have a moving account of Indira 
looking after her mother during her last illness: 

Indira used to look stunned watching her mother strugghng between 
life and death. There seemed a very close bond between mother and 
daughter and their eyes spoke the same language, a language of courage 
and sadness. 

Kamala’s death shordy afterwards in February 1936 was a great tragedy 
for Indira and Jawaharlal. Leaving his daughter behind in Europe to 
pursue her studies, Jawaharlal travelled back to India with the ashes of 
his wife in order to immerse them in the river Ganges. The letters, as if 



by tacit agreement, make no mention of Kamala, but they speak of the 
true loneliness which now descended upon him: 

I have been living here in Anand Bhawan, a solitary individual . . .working 
alone except when I am in [the] office. I sit here in my room and the 
door connecting it with your room is usually open. And at night, and 
sometimes in the day-time too, I go to your room and have a look round 
and say good night to it.Your presence seems to hover around the room 
and I have not liked the idea of disturbing anytliing in it.Various oddments 
lie about, as you left them, and one has the feeling that the room has 
been recently occupied . . . 

I rejoice in your letters which tell me of your life full of activity and 
work and joy. Your written word brings innumerable pictures to my 
mind, a crowd of memories and visions of days gone by, and the sense of 
emptiness in this silent deserted house goes from me. For otherwise it is 

a lone house filled 
with the cricket’s call; 
and tlie scampering mouse 
in the hollow wall. 

In 1937, Indira was to return from Europe to Anand Bhawan for the 
first time after her mother’s death. She was now a young woman with 
intellectual interests and emotional attachments of her own, reflecting a 
new stage in the development of her personality. Feroze Gandhi, a young 
political activist from her home town, had grown very fond of Indira. 
She reciprocated his feelings. He had been known to the family, 
particularly to Kamala whose simplicity and sincerity of purpose he had 
greatly admired. After a few months in India, Indira was anxious to 
return to Great Britain to pursue her studies. Feroze, too, was a student 
in London. A contemporary at Oxford who travelled with her from 
Bombay has left us a telling portrait of Indira. As they embarked the 
ship, the Viceroy of India, Kamila Tyabji observes: 

I wept bitterly . . . Indira, on the other hand, xvas calm, unruftled. It was 
the first glimpse I had of that intrepid training from her father she had 
had from her earliest years; the suffering, and the inevitable hardening 
that her family’s intense involvement in the independence struggle had 
caused her. She was already a veteran at parting. We stood side by side, the ship sailed away; she, perfectly controlled, wdiilst I just did 
not know wiiat to do with my tears . . . 



Indira’s brief stay at Oxford in 1937-1939 was a period of great 
intellectual stimulus for her. In a very different way from Santiniketan, 
where she had gained an understanding of the cultural traditions of 
India at the feet of Rabindranath Tagore, Oxford greatly extended her 
horizons. She established rapport with people of radical and left-wing 
opinion in Great Britain. Indian students in Oxford were completely 
iimnersed in politics in the late 1930s, especially through the Indian 
Majlis, which provided a platform for debate on the great political issues 
of the day. Yet Indira’s circle was wider than that of most students. The 
radical nationahst, V.K. Krishna Menon, who was a great admirer of 
Jawaharlal Nehru, took a special interest in her and drew her into socialist 
and anti-imperialist work in London. 

From Oxford she wrote to her father: 

... [I] went to tea with H.A.L. Fisher. He is awfully race and his wife is 
perfecdy charming — I wonder if you have met her.There were a number 
of New College freshers there ... I had a marvellous time. Then I had 
dinner with Mrs Rhys Davis and the Majlis Executive — afterwards was 
the Majlis meeting at which Mrs Rhys Davis spoke. By the way, I do not 
remember whether in my last letter I told you that I have become the 
Women’s Secretary of the Majlis . . . 

... I think I have told you that I have joined only two societies in 
Oxford — the Indian Majlis and the University Labour Club. There are 
all shades of opinion in the Labour Club and it is not affiliated to the 
Labour Party. But in two days is the County Council election and we 
want the Labour candidate to get in. I went out canvassing one night 
and spent a good hour yesterday folding and filling in blanks in election 

In December 1939 Indira’s health, which had been delicate, began to 
deteriorate, forcing her to interrupt her studies again. She was sent to a 
sanatorium in Leysin in Switzerland to recover from a bout of pleurisy. 
Away from her friends and from College, a strong feeling of depression 
came over her. However, she fought her illness with determination. With 
the worsening of the political situation in Europe, Indira decided to 
return to India. She began to plan her return journey in an atmosphere 
full of insecurity about her own future, as well as that of the world. Even 
in this moment of crisis, however, her poise and strength did not desert 
her. She wrote to her father: 



So I left the money — -just m case I needed it on my journey to India, 
when taking money out of England would be difficult. I am teUing you 
this so that you may claim this money — just m case (this is highly 
improbable, but still) anything should happen to me.There is no point in 
making a present of it to Cook’s. 

While studying in England, Indira Nehru took an interest in the 
world political situation. She belonged to a young group of people who 
at Oxford followed closely the struggle between two opposite political 
and social currents: fascism and sociahsm. Indira’s radical perspective 
firom which she viewed world politics led her to differ from her father. 
This is obvious in her comment to Jawaharlal Nehru on his article on 
the Soviet Union which he wrote in 1940: 

I have just been reading m the National Herald your article on Russia 
and the Finnish war . . .You seemed to be shocked equally by the Russo- 
German Pact and the war on Finland. And yet, doesn’t the responsibihty 
of both rest heavily on these eight years of British foreign policy? At 
Munich,England and France proved defimtely on which side they stood. 
Russia’s pohcy of collective security having failed, she retired into her 
pre-Litvinov isolation and her chief preoccupation was bound to be 
how to keep herself out of the impending European war. (Hence the 
advance into the Baltic.) The Russo-German Pact was certainly not a 
change of front, since Germany primarily asked no more of Russia than 
that this isolation should continue. And the pact has not made any 
difference to the Soviet Union’s condemnation of Nazism and 
Imperiahsm — viz. Molotov’s speech m November or the Mamfesto of 
the Commumst International on the present war. As to Finland, you 
agree that the Soviet Union’s demands were justffied. Why, then, did the 
war come as such a shock to you? Did you expect the Soviet Umon, 
after her demands had been rejected at the instigation of the Allies, to sit 
back and say no more about it until the whole war should be directed 
against her? For such was — is still — the intention of the AUies, as the 
British press is at no pains to conceal , . . 

It took months for Indira to reach London from Switzerland and 
months more to find a passage back to India round the Cape of Good 
Hope. It was April 1941 by the time she reached Allahabad. She was 
now in her early twenties. Feroze Gandhi and Indira had decided to 
marry. Because of different backgrounds the thought of such an 


unconventional union worried Jawaharlal Nehru. He initially reacted 
negatively to the proposal. However, as soon as he realised the depth of 
the feelings which existed between the two young people, he gave his 
consent. Indira Nehru married Feroze Gandhi on 26 March 1942 in 
Allahabad. Indira’s aunt, Mrs Krishna Huthcesing, has left a moving 
account of the wedding: 

Lovely to look at, on this special occasion she looked lovelier than ever, 
frail and almost ethereal. She laughed and talked to those around her but 
sometimes her big black eyes would darken and hold a distant and 
sorrowful look. What dark cloud could mar the joy of this happy day? 
Was it due to a longing for the young mother who was no more, by 
whose absence a void had been created which even on tliis day remained 
unfilled? Or was it the thought of parting from the father, a father whose 
very life she had been? 

Soon after their marriage the couple travelled to Kashmir, but the 
intensification of the political struggle made them return to Allahabad. 
The British Government had made it clear that it would not grant 
autonomy to India during the war. In August 1 942, after the adoption of 
the ‘Quit India’ Resolution, Jawaharlal Nehru was imprisoned together 
with all the prominent political leaders of India. Indira Gandhi too was 
arrested in September 1942. In Naini Central Jail she involved herselfin 
extensive reading and in looking after her fellow prisoners, amongst 
them a little child, the daughter of one of the jail inmates. Life in prison 
also gave her the rare opportunity to spend many delightful hours 
observing plants, trees and birds within the prison compound: 

Wliatever differences stone walls and iron bars may make to the human 
soul,let us be thankfiil that they offer no obstacle to the vegetable kingdom, 
which follows the cycle of the seasons, year in and year out, come war or 
peace. We have a Peepal in our yard — a tree which, had it depended 
upon human praise and approbation, would have withered away long 
since. However, it ignored our derision and went on its lordly way. And 
now that Phalgun is come again, the few remaining shreds of last years 
garment, yellow with age are being shed off and its bare limbs are being 
clothed in glorious sunset pink. It looks as if a deep blush were spreading 
along the branches which gives it rather a coy look.Amazingly beautifiil 
it is. But spring doesn’t last long and soon summer will transform this 
flimsy pinky garment into the thicker aiid more serviceable green one. 



Indira Gandhi was released from prison in 1943 while her father was 
to remain in jail for three long years. After her release, she wrote to her 
father frequently, keeping him informed on what was happening outside. 
She was soon to speak to him about the joys of becoming a mother. She 
went to Bombay to stay with her aunt for the coming event.The month 
of May found her in Matheran from where she wrote to her father: 

I have collected from Chhoti Puphi all the books on children and babies 
that she possessed and have brought them here. I am rather awed by the 
responsibihty of bringing a new person into the world and of having 
complete control over his life . . . 

Indira gave birth to her son Rajiv on 20 August 1 944. Her letters to 
her father, still imprisoned, are now frill of the excitement and fulfilment 
of a mother observing the rapid growth of her little one and his increasing 
awareness of the world around him. On 26 January 1945 she wrote to 
Jawaharlal Nehru: 

Independence day — we have had the usual flag ceremony at home.Rajiva 
helped me to hoist the flag! He also made weird accompaniments to the 
flag song . . . 

The correspondence between Indira and Jawaharlal Nehru while 
her father was stdl in jail continues to reflect upon private and public 
matters. Jawaharlal Nehru was released in 1945. Soon after, he played a 
crucial role in the negotiations which the British Government conducted 
with the leaders of India. In 1946 the British constituted an Interim 
Government which had Jawaharlal Nehru as the de facto First Executive 
of independent India. At this stage Indira Gandhi divided her time 
between her home in Lucknow and her father’s in New Delhi. In 
December the same year, she gave birth to her second son, Sanjay. 

For the next seventeen years Indira Gandhi carried out the duties of 
official hostess for her father.The exchange between father and daughter 
now became more that of the spoken word, with the exception of 
occasions when Indira left Delhi for short holidays or was on tour in 
India or abroad. Here again, between 1946 and 1964, we have some 
letters which give us an insight into the role which Indira Gandhi played 
in political affairs. Whether vacationing in Kashmir or working with 
ordinary citizens or with organisations (mostly connected with the 
welfare of children), she conveyed to her father with great sensitivity 



the temper of politics in the country and the climate of opinion among 
people of different social backgrounds. 

Letters are conversarion on paper — but more revealing. Indira Gandhis 
shyness and sense of privacy made her express herself more freely on 
paper than in person. Therefore her writings, particularly the later ones, 
carry a greater charge of poignancy and revelation. 

These letters, exchanged between a renowned statesman and writer 
and a reluctant, developing one, may lead to a fuller understanding of 
two individuals who left such a mark on India and the world of our 



Kinship Circle 

GANGA DHAR Nehru: grandfather of Jawaharlal Nehru, he was a police officer in 
Delhi, from where he fled in 1857. 

MOTILAL Nehru, father of Jawaharlal Nehru, Vijaya Lakshnu Pandit and Krishna 
Hutheesing Prominent lawyer in Allahabad Bought the house Anand Bhawan, 
Allahabad, in 1900. President of the sessions of the Indian National Congress in 
1919 and 1928. Leader of the Swaraj Party in the Central Legislative Assembly. 
Indira called liim Dadu, the Kashmiri variant of Dada, meamng grandfather 

SWARUP Rani Nehru, mother ofjawaharlal Nehru. Indira as a young child called her 
Dol Amma because she used to give her sweets from a doh, or a cabinet, with doors 
of wire-mesh used for storing food 

KamALA Nehru, nee KAUL: married Jawaharlal Nehru m 1916 Gave birth to Indira in 
1917 Active in the national movement. Suffered fi:om a pulmonary ailment and 
died m 1936 at Lausanne 

BiBI AmmA. widowed sister of Swarup Ram Nehru, who lived with the Nehrus in 
Anand Bhawan 

FeROZE Gandhi pohtical activist from Allahabad Studied at the London School of 
Economics Married Indira in 1942. Member of the Constituent Assembly. Elected 
to the House of the People (Lok Sabha) of the Indian Parliament in 1952 and 1957 
Died in 1960 at the age of forty-eight. 

MOTILAL ATAL- great grandfather of Kamala Nehru. He was Prime Mimster of Jaipur 

RAJPATI KAUL (Amma or Nani); mother of Kamala Nehru, she was actively involved 
in the freedom movement and was imprisoned more than once 

Chand Bahadur KouL' brother of Kamala Nehru He served in the State Bank of 

RUP KoUL: wife of Chand Bahadur Koul. 

Ashok, Chitra, Om and HarI: children of Chand Bahadur and Rup Koul. 

Kailas Nath KAuL: brother of Kamala Nehru. Indira refers to him as Mamu. A botamst, 
he was Director of the National Botanical Garden and Vice-Chancellor of the 
Chandrashekhar Azad Agricultural University. 

Sheila KaUL ; wife of Kailas Nath Kaul She was Mimster of State for Education and 
Culture (1980-4) and a General Secretary of the Indian National Congress 

Gautam Kaul: son of Kadas Nath and Sheila Kaul He was a semor officer m the 
Indian Police Service 


SWARUP KathJU, nee KAUL (Bappi): younger sister of Kamala Nehru. 

P.N. KATHJU: husband of Swarup Kathju. 

NareSH Kathju: son of P.N. and Swarup Kathju. 

MADAN ATAL: cousin of Kamala Nehru. A physician, he accompanied Kamala Nehru 
to Europe during her last illness. He went to Spain in 1937 on a medical mission 
and led the medical mission sent by the Indian National Congress to China m 

Brijlal Nehru (Bijju or Bijji Chacha): a nephew of Motilal Nehru, he grew up in 
Anand Bhawan and rose to be a senior official of the Indian Finance Department 

RAMESHWARI Nehru (Bijju or Bijji Chachi): wife of Brijlal Nehru. Active in politics, 
she was one of the founders of the AU-India Women’s Conference. 

Balwant KUMAIL Nehru: referred to as Ballo, younger son of Brijlal and Rameshwan 
Nehru. Engineer and business executive. 

BRAJ Kumar Nehru: referred to as Bijju, son of Brijlal and Rameshwari Nehru. A 
member of the Indian Civil Service, he was Indian Ambassador to the United 
States, 1961—8, Indian High Commissioner in London, 1973-7. He also served as 
Governor of Assam and of Jammu and Kashmir. 

Shobha Nehru, also called Fory: Hungarian-born wife of Braj Kumar Nehni. 

ViJAYA LaksHMI Pandit, nee SaruP Nehru: sister of Jawaharlal Nehru, born 1900. 
Called Nan, shortened form of Nanm or young girl. Married Ranjit S. Pandit. 
Indira Gandhi refers to her as Bari Puphi or Semor Aunt. Was Minister in the 
United Provinces After independence, represented India m London, Moscow and 
Washington. President of the United Nations General Assembly. Governor of 
Maharashtra, 1962—4. Member of the Indian Parliament, 1964-8. 

Ranjit Sitaram Pandit: husband ofVijaya Lakshmi Pandit Participated in the freedom 
movement. Imprisoned along with Jawaharlal Nehru. 

ChanDRALEKHA Mehta, nee PANDIT: eldest ofVijaya Lakshrm Pandit’s three daughters. 
Referred to as Chand by Indira Gandhi. 

NAYANTARA Sahgal, nee PANDIT: second daughter ofVijaya Lakshmi Pandit. Author 
and novelist. Referred to as Tara. 

Rita Dar, nee Pandit: youngest daughter ofVijaya Lakshmi Pandit. Married to Avtar 
Krishna Dar of the Indian Foreign Service 

Krishna HUTHEESING, nee Nehru: sister ofjawaharlal Nehru. Born 1907. Died 1967. 
Called Betty, the Anglicised form of Beti or daughter. Indira Gandhi refers to her as 
Chhoti Puphi or Junior Aunt. 

G.P HutheesinG: husband of Krishna Hutheesing and known in the family as Raja. A 
member of the Socialist Party. 

Harsha and AJIT Hutheesing. sons of Krishna and G.P. Hutheesing. 

Shri SHRIDHAILA Nehru: a cousin of jawaharlal Nehru. Mathematician and civil 
servant. Indira Gandhi refers to him as Shridhar Chacha. 

Raj DulARI NEHRU: wdfe of Shri Shridhara Nehru. Indira Gandhi refers to her as Raj 

RATAN Kumar Nehru, a second cousin of Indira Gandhi. Was a member of the 
Indian Civil Service. Retired as head of the Foreign Office. 

ILajan NnHRU:\vife ofRatan Kumar Nehru; a social worker. 

• kinship and political circles, and circle of friends • 


SHYAM KuMARI KHAN:a niece ofjawaharlal Nehru. Active in pobtics and social work. 
Indira Gandhi called her Shammie Didda. 

LadlI Prasad ZutshI: an uncle of Indira Gandhi; a lawyer. 

ViDYAVATI Durr, nee NeHRU' a niece ofJaw<3harlal Nehru. 

MOTI KATHJU: a cousin of Jawaharlal Nehru. He worked for the Pioneer, Lucknow, 
before joining the Indian Army He was a member ofWingate’s expedition and was 
killed in May 1943 in a Japanese ambush in Burma. 

Anand BHAWAN: Motilal Nehru bought a large house which stood in groves measuring 
more than ten acres in 1900. It had been built some years earlier by a Judge of the 
Allahabad High Court. Motilal remodelled it to suit his needs and named it Anand 
Bhawan In the late 1920s, Motilal built a smaller house on the same grounds, on 
which also he conferred the name Anand Bhawan, giving away the original house 
to the nation. The ‘old’ house, which was renamed Swaraj Bhawan (or Freedom 
House), was the headquarters of the Congress until India attained independence. 

Political Circle 

AddullaH, Sheikh (1 905-82): nationahst leader of Kashimr; spearheaded a democratic 
and secular movement against the Maharaja and suffered imprisonment; Prime 
Minister, Jammu & Kashmir, 1948-53, 1975-82. 

Amrit Kaur (1889-1964): disciple of Mahatma Gandhi, participated in the freedom 
struggle; Minister for Health, 1947-57 

AnsaRI, M.A. (1 880-1936): prominent physician; nationalist Mushm, President, Muslim 
League in 1920, actively participated in the Khilafat and non-cooperation movements; 
President, Indian National Congress in 1927. 

Azad, MauLANA Auul Kalam (1888—1958): scholar, theologian, journalist and 
nationalist; entered politics and started the Urdu weeklies Al-Hilal and Al-Balagh, 
came into close contact with Mahatma Gandhi during the non-cooperation 
movement; President, Indian National Congress, 1923 and 1940-6; served as 
Education Minister, 1947-58. 

BajaJ, JAMNALAL (1889— 1942): businessman and philanthropist who participated in 
India’s struggle for freedom; took keen interest m Mahatma Gandhi’s constructive 

Bose, Subhas Chandra (1897—1945): was selected for the Indian Civil Service in 
1920 and resigned in 1921; joined the freedom struggle in 1921 and suffered 
imprisonment on many occasions, elected to the Bengal Legislative Council; 
President, Bengal Congress Committee for several years. President, Indian National 
Congress, 1938, re-elected, 1939; founded the Forward Bloc, 1939; escaped to Europe 
during the Second World War; organised the Indian National Army; died in a plane 
crash in 1945 

I5esai,M0RARJI (1896): eminent politician; Chief Minister ofBombay, 1952— 6; Union 
Minister of Commeice, 1956-8, and Finance, 1958—63; Prime Minister of India, 

HakJiAR,PN.( 1913) civil servant and intellectual; Secretary, Prime Minister’s Secretariat, 
1967-71; Principal Secretary to Prime Minister, 1971—3. 



Husain, Dr Zakir (1 897-1969): educ 3 tionist;Vice-Chancellor ofjamia Millia Islarraa, 
Delhi, 1926-48, and of Ahgarh Muslim University, 1948-56; Governor ofBihar, 
1957— 62; Vice-President of India, 1962—7, and President, 1967—9. 

JiNNAH, MOHAMED ALI (1876-1948): barrister of Bombay; President of the Muslim 
League, 1916, 1920 and from 1934 till his death; a nationahst who later agitated for 
and presided over the creation of Pakistan. 

KAMARAJ, K. (1903-75): Congress leader from Madras; Chief Minister of Madras, 
1954—63; President, Indian National Congress, 1963—7. 

Khan, Abdul GhaffAR (1890-1988); Congress leader of the North-West Frontier 
Province, popularly known as Frontier Gandhi; before 1947 suffered imprisonment 
for his participation in the nationalist struggle; was later arrested by the Pakistan 
Government and held in prison for many years; awarded Bharat Ratna, 1987. 

Khan SaheB, Dr (1883-1958): brother of Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan and a friend of 
Jawaharlal Nehru during his student days in London; Premier, N.W.FP., 1937-9 
and 1945—7; Chief Minister, West Pakistan, 1955-7. 

KiDWAI, Rafi Ahmed (1894-1954): Congress leader from U.P.; member, Indian 
Legislative Assembly, 1926-9; member. Congress Working Committee, 1947-51; 
Union Minister for Food and Agriculture, 1952-4. 

Mahmud, Dr Syed (1889-1971): a noted barrister of Patna High Court; gave up 
practice to join the freedom struggle; Mimster of Education and Development, 
Bihar, 1937-9; Minister of Development and Transport, Bihar, 1946-52; Union 
Minister of State for External Affairs, 1954-7. 

MALAVIYA, Pandit MADAN Mohan (1861-1946): educationist and nationalist. 
President, Indian National Congress in 1909 and 1918; member of the Imperial 
Legislative Council; member, Swaraj Party and later organised the Nationahst Party; 
Founder of the Benares Hindu University 

MEHTA,Jivraj (1887—1978): physician and nationalist; Chief Mimster, Gujarat, 1960-3; 
Indian High Commissioner, U.K., 1963-6, member, Lok Sabha, 1971-6. 

MenON, V.K. Krishna (1896— 1974): Secretary of the India League in London, 1929- 
47; High Commissioner in London, 1947-52; member, Indian delegation to the 
United Nations, 1952-62; Mimster without Portfoho, 1956-7, and for Defence, 

Naidu, SAROJINI (1879—1949): poetess and nationalist; President, Indian National 
Congress in 1925;attended the second RoundTable Conference in 1931; Governor, 
UP., 1947-9. 

Pant, GOVIND BalLABH (1887— 1961):Advocate and leader of the Swaraj Party in UP 
Council, 1923-30; suffered many terms of imprisonment; Premier, UR, 1937-9 
and Chief Mimster, U.P., 1946—55; Home Mimster, Government of India, 1955—61 

Patel, SardarVallabHBHAI (1875— 1950);lawyer who became associated with Gandhi 
in 1918 and participated in the nationalist struggle, organised no-tax compaign in 
Bardoli, 1928, and thereafter came to be known as the Sardar (leader); President, 
Gujarat Congress Committee for many years; President, Indian National Congress 
in 1931; member. Interim Government, 1946-7; Deputy Prime Minister and 
Minister for Home, States, Information and Broadcasting, 1947—50. 



PILASAD, RAJENDRA (1884— 1963): lawyer who joined Mahatma Gandhi in 1917 and 
participated in the non-cooperation movement; President, Indian National Congress, 
1934, 1939 and 1946-7; Minister, Food and Agriculture, Government of India, 
1946-8; President, Constituent Assembly, 1946-50; President of India, 1950-62. 

R0Y,I5IDHAN Chandra (1882-1 962): physician and nationalist; elected to the Bengal 
Legislative Council in 1923; President, All India Medical Council, 1939-45; Chief 
Minister, West Bengal, 1948-62. 

SHASTRI, LAL Bahadur (1904-66): Congress leader from U.P; Union Minister for 
Railways, 1 952-6, for Communication, 1957— 8, for Commerce and Industry, 1958- 
61, for Home Affairs, 1961—3, Prime Minister,June 1964— January 1966 

Tagore, Rabindranath (1 861-1941): poet, novelist, essayist and dramatist; recipient 
of the Nobel Prize for literature in 1913; was deeply involved in the social and 
political regeneration of India; founded theVisva-Bharati University ofSantiniketan 
in West Bengal 

Nehru sers’ed his longest term m prison from 9 August 1942 to 15 June 1945, a 
period of 1040 days, in Alimadnagar Fort. During this period, he was incarcerated 
with eleven other members of the Congress Working Comimttce, which had passed 
the famous Resolution of 8 August 1942, asking the British to ‘Quit India’. The 
names of these leaders are as follows' 

1 . Asaf Ah 

2. Azad, Abul Kalam 

3 Deo, Shankarrao 

4 Deva, Narendra 

5. Ghosh, Prafulla Chandra 

6. Kripalani,J.B 

7. Mahmud, Syed 

8 Mahtab, Harekrushna 

9. Pant, Govind Ballabh 

10. Patel, Vallabhbhai 

11. Sitaramayya, Pattabhi 

Till March 1945, all these leaders were incarcerated in Alimadnagar Fort Thereafter, 
they were transferred to various prisons in the provinces to which they belonged 
Jawaharlal Nehru was moved first to Nairn Prison, then to Bareilly and finally to 
Almora, from where he was released on 15 June 1945 

Circle of Friends 

All Asaf (1888-1953): a Congressman and barnster of Delhi, actively associated with 
the freedom struggle, first Indian Ambassador to Washington, 1947— 8; Governor of 
Orissa, 1948— 52; Ambassador to Switzerland, 1952—3. 

Ah lice Ganguli, Aruna Asaf (1906): prominent socialist leader; married to Asaf Ali; 
took part in the Quit India Movement, 1942; Mayor of Delhi, 1958-60. 


Baker, Beatrice May: Principal of Badminton School, where Indira Gandhi spent 
some time in 1936—7. 

BANERJI nee GANGULI, PuRNIMA (Nora): a political activist of Allahabad who was a 
friend of the Nehrus. She was the younger sister of Axuna Asaf Ali. 

BHANDARI, PC.: physician who was associated with the India League, London; friend 
of the Nehru family. 

BOSE, NANDALAL (1883-1966): distinguished artist on the faculty ofVisva-Bharad, 
PadmaVibhushan, 1955. 

Captain, GoshibeN: granddaughter of Dadabhai Naoroji, a founder of the Indian 
National Congress. 

Captain, PerIN (1888-1958): granddaughter of Dadabhai Naoroji; took part in the 
freedom struggle and suffered imprisonment on several occasions. 

DARBYSHIRE, Helen: Principal of Somerville College, Oxford, when Indira Gandhi 
was a student there. 

DesaI, MAHADEV (1892-1942): Secretary to Mahatma Gandhi, 1917-42; participated 
in the freedom struggle; died a prisoner in the Aga Klian’s Palace, Poona, in 1942. 

Deva, NARENDRA (1889-1956): popularly known as Acharya (or ‘The Scholar’) 
Narendra Deva; eminent socialist and scholar; participated in the freedom struggle; 
one of the founders of the Congress Socialist Party; associated with Kashi Vidyapith; 
was also Vice-Chancellor of Lucknow and Benares Hindu Universities. 

Geissler, Louise: German national who helped Indians during the pre-Hider period. 

HARI: valet to Motilal Nehru; after his death attached himself to Jawaharlal Nehru; 
elected to the U.P. Legislative Assembly, 1937; died in 1961. 

Harrison, Agatha (1885-1954):friend of Mahatma Gandhi and of the Nehru family, 
she was a Quaker who worked for India’s freedom. 

HEMMERLIN.L.: Principal ofL’Ecole Nouvelle, Bex, Switzerland, which Indira Gandhi 
attended in 1926; she was again under Mile Hemmerlin’s care in 1935-6. 

Kaul, T.N. (1913): author and diplomat;Ambassador to Iran, 1958-60, to U.S S.R.and 
Mongolia, 1962—6, and to U.S.A., 1973—6; Secretary, Alinistry of External Affairs, 
1966—8; Foreign Secretary, 1968—72. 

LASKI, Harold J. (1893-1950): Professor of Political Science at the London School of 
Economics, 1926-50, active in the socialist movement and Chairman, Labour Party, 

Mehta, Krishna (1913):a fidend of the Nehru family, engaged in the rehabilitation of 
refugee women and children in Jammu and Kashimr, 1948; member, Lok Sabha, 

Miraben (Madeleine Slade) (1892-1982): disciple of Mahatma Gandhi; she lived at 
Sabarmati Ashram for many years and participated in the freedom struggle. 

Morin, Louise (1883-1970): French journalist and friend of India who was in charge 
of the French unit of the All-India Radio, 1952-65. 

Nahas Pasha (Mustafa Nahas Pasha) (1876— 1965): Egyptian statesman and leader of 
Wafd Party. 

Naidu,Leilamani (1903-59): daughter ofSarojini Naidu; served in the Indian Foreign 
Service, 1948-58. 

Naidu, PADMAJA (1900—75); daughter of Sarojim Naidu; Governor of West Bengal, 


1956-66. She was called Bebee by kinsmen and close friends. 

Nambiar, A.C.N. (Nanu) (1896—1986). worked for Indian freedom in Europe and 
lived in exile in Germany till 1947; Indian Ambassador to the Federal Republic of 
Germany, 1955-8 

NaorOJI, Khurshedben (1894—1966): granddaughter of Dadabhai Naoroji; was 
associated with Gandhian institutions. 

Samant, DrVatsala. Medical Supermtendent of the Kamala Nehru Hospital, Allahabad, 
1942-72; a friend of Indira Gandhi 

SARABHAI Family: the Sarabhais are a notable family of Gujarat, prominent in industry 
and in culture. Ambalal Sarabhai, a null-owner of Ahniedabad, his wife, Saralaben, 
and his sister, Ansuyaben, came under Mahatma Gandhi’s influence Among Ambalal’s 
children, Mridula Sarabhai was prormnent m politics and social work.Vikram, a 
scientist, rose to be chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission. 

Thompson, Edward (1886-1946): author and friend ofjawaharlal Nehru; supported 
the cause of Indian freedom 

Upadhyaya, S D. (1899-1984): served as personal secretary to Motilal Nehru, 1923- 
31, and to Jawaharlal Nehru, 1931—46; imprisoned several times; member, Lok 
Sabha, 1952-67 and Rajya Sabha, 1967—70 

The Vakils: Jehangir Jivaj'i Vakil and his wife Coonverbai; JJ Vakil was teacher at 
Santiniketan; they opened the Pupds’ Own School at Poona which was influenced 
by Tagore; Indira Gandhi was admitted to the Pupils’ Own School in May 1931. 

Yunus, Mohammad (1916— 2001):a friend of the Nehru family;joined Indian Foreign 
Service after independence; served as Head of Missions at Jogjakarta, Ankara, Baghdad, 
Madrid, San Francisco and Algiers; Chairman,Trade Fair Authority of India, 1980-9; 
and as member of the Upper House in the Indian Parhament. 


1. In March 1926 Jawaliarlal Nehru, Kamala and Indira travelled to Europe where 
Kamala underwent medical treatment. They stayed for a few months in Geneva. 
During this period Indira joined L'Ecole Nouvellc in Bex. She visited Paris and 
London with her parents in 1927. Jawaharlal Nehru attended the International 
Congress Against Imperialism at Brussels m February 1 927 as a representative of 
tlie Indian National Congress. Motilal Nehni joined them m Europe in September 
1927. In November 1927 Motilal,Jawaharlal and Kamala visited Moscow to attend 
the celebrations of the tenth anmversary of the Russian Revolution. Jawaharlal, 
along with Kamala and Indira, returned to India later m December 1927. 

2. After Motilal Nehru’s death in 1931 Jawaharlal, accompanied by Kamala and Indira, 
visited Ceylon for a brief while. 

3. Indira studied in the Pupils’ Own School in Pune (Poona) from May 1931 to April 
1934. She passed her Matriculation examination m April 1934 and in July 1934 
joined Visva-Bharati University at Santmiketan, Bengal. 

4... JnJuly 1934 Kamala became ill again and Jaw'aharlal (then in prison) was released 

'T on parole for a few days to visit his wife. Indira also came over from Santmiketan. In 
October 1934 Kamala was admitted to a sanatorium in Bhowali in the Himalayan 
foothills and Indira accompanied her mother to this resort. 

5. In May 1935 Kamala and Indira, accompanied by Dr Madan Atal, travelled to 
Badenweiler in Bavaria where Kamala was admitted to a sanatorium. Indira spent 
some time inVienna and Berlin before joimng her mother in Badenweiler.Jawaharlal 
Nehru was released from prison in September 1935 to join his wife in Badenweiler. 
While in Europe, Indira rejoined her old school at Bex. At the end ofjanuary 1936 
Kamala was moved to Lausanne m Switzerland. She died there on 28 February 
1936. After her cremation at Lausanne, Jawaharlal and Indira spent a few days at 
Montreux. Thereafter, Jawaharlal returned to India carrying Kamala’s ashes for 
immersion, according to custom, in the Sangam (the junction of the Ganga and the 
Yamuna) at Allahabad. 

6. Indira joined the Badminton School at Bristol, Great Britain, in October 1936 to 
prepare herself for entry into Somerville College, Oxford. 

7 . In the spring of 1937 Indira returned to India for a few months. In the months of 
May and June she visited Burma, Malaya and Singapore along with Jawaharlal 
Nehru.Thereafter,she went by herself to Mussoorie and Lucknow before returning 
to Anand Bhawan, Allahabad. In September, she sailed for Europe from Bombay. 
She joined Somerville College, Oxford, m October 1937. 


8. In the summer of 1938 Jawaharlal travelled to Great Britain and Europe. On his 
way to London he visited Barcelona, Spain, in the month of June Indira was in 
London to receive her father when he arrived, and they were together in Great 
Britain from the end of June till the third week of July. Thereafter, father and 
daughter travelled to Paris, Prague and then to Budapest They reached Budapest in 
the third week of August Indira fell ill while in Budapest, and returned to Great 
Britain early m September and was admitted to Brentford Hospital, Middlesex. She 
returned to India with her father in November 1938. On their way, they broke 
their journey m Cairo and visited the pyramids. Indira spent five months in her 
country, most of which period was spent with her aunt, Krishna Hutheesing, in 

9. In April 1939 Indira returned to Oxford In tlie summer of 1939 she spent a vacation 
in Switzerland. Later, she became ill and was first hospitalised in Brentford, Middlesex, 
and thereafter, in December 1939, she was admitted to a sanatonum in Leysm, 

10. Jawaharlal visited Ceylon in July 1939 and China in August 1939. 

11. From Switzerland, Indira returned to Great Britain via Portugal in January 1941. 
Accompanied by Feroze Gandhi, she sailed for India via the Cape of Good Hope, 
and reached Bombay on 17 April 1941. Jawaharlal Nehru was in prison at this time. 

12. Indira spent the summer months of 1941 in the hill resort of Mussoone, Jawaharlal 
was released from prison in December 1941. 

13 Indira married Feroze Gandhi in March 1942. She and her husband accompanied 
Jawaharlal Nehru to Bombay to attend the special session of the All India Congress 
Committee where the famous Quit India Resolution was passed on 8th August. 
On her return to Allahabad, Indira was fiilly drawn into the anti-British agitation 
and was arrested on 10 September 1942, while addressing a pubhc meeting Feroze 
was also arrested the same day. 

14. After her release from pnson in May 1943, Indira spent some time at Bombay with 
her aunt, Krishna Hutheesing She returned to Allahabad at the end of August. 

15 In the month of March 1944, Indira Gandhi travelled to Bombay where she planned 
to stay with Krishna Hutheesing till her confinement. She also visited Matheran, 
Poona and Mahabaleswar during this period. Rajiv was born on 20 August 1 944, in 
Bombay. Mother and child returned to Allahabad in October 1944. 

16. In May 1945, Indira Gandhi went to Kashnur witli Rajiv. She returned to Allahabad 
in June to meet Jawaharlal Nehru on his release finm prison. She went back to 
Srinagar, and Jawaharlal proceeded to Simla for the Simla Conference. 

17 After his release,Jawaharlal Nehru was drawn into political consultations which led 
to the formation of an Interim Government. Durmg the summer of 1946, Indira 
spent some time at Almora and then moved to New Delhi, where Sanjay, her 
second son, was born on 14 December 1946. During this year Jawaharlal Nehru 
travelled to Malaya in March and to Egypt in December 

18 On 15 August 1947, India became independent and Jawaharlal Nehru was sworn in 
as Prime Minister. Indira Gandhi had already started living under the same roof as 
her father and she was present on this momentous occasion. 

19 Jawaharlal Nehru went to London in October 1948 and then again in April 1949 


to attend the Commonwealth Prime Ministers’ Conference. Towards the end of 
1949, Indira Gandhi visited London and the United States with her father. 

20. In January 1950 Indira accompanied her father to Sri Lanka where he was to attend 
the Cormnonwealth Foreign Ministers’ Conference. She and her father visited 
Pakistan in April 1950. 

21. Indira spent the summer of 1951 in Kashmir with Rajiv and Sanjay.The winter of 
1951—2 witnessed hectic activity due to the forthcoming General Election. 
Indira was fully drawn into the election campaign and toured die country extensively. 

22. In May 1953 Indira attended the coronation ceremony of Queen Elizabeth in 
London with her father. She made her first visit to U.S.S.R. in June-July 1953. She 
visited U.S.S.R. again in the company of her father in the summer of 1955. In 
February 1955 and in the third week of June 1956 Jawaharlal Nehru went to 
London for the Commonwealth Prime Ministers’ Conference. Indira and her two 
sons accompanied him. She also accompanied him to U.S.A. and Canada in 
December 1956. 

23. In June 1957 Jawaharlal Nehru went on a four-week tour of foreign countries.The 
Commonwealth Prime Ministers’ Conference formed part of this tour. Indira visited 
Japan for the first time in October 1957 with her father. In July 1958 she travelled 
to London. She vvas again with her father on his first official visit to Bhutan in the 
second week of September 1958. 

24. In February 1959 Indira Gandhi was elected President of the Indian National 
Congress and had to travel widely across the country in that capacity. She visited 
Afghamstan and Iran with Jawaharlal Nehru in September 1959. 

25. Jawaharlal Nehru travelled to London in May 1960 to attend the Commonwealth 
Prime Ministers’ Conference. Indira Gandhi went to New York in the second week 
of May and was there for about a week. She joined Jawaharlal Nehru at Istanbul 
(Turkey), where they spent a couple of days. They visited Lebanon and Syria on 
their way back to India. In September Jawaharlal was in New York at the U.N. In 
October 1960 Indira was in Mexico, going to New York the following month to 
receive the Howland Memorial Prize ofYale University for Distinguished 
Achievement fixim the President ofYale University. She also unveiled a portrait of 
Elihu Yale. From New York she went to Paris. She was elected a member of the 
Executive Board of UNESCO. She also paid a short visit to Germany in December 

26. In March 1961 Jawaharlal Nehru was m London. Indira Gandhi travelled to Europe 
in May 1961 to attend the meeting of the Executive Board of UNESCO in Paris. 
She was accompanied by Rajiv. In August 1961 she was sent as Nehru’s emissary to 
East Africa, Kenya, Uganda,Tanzania and Rhodesia. In the first week of September, 
Jawaharlal Nehru proceeded to Belgrade for the Non-Aligned Conference and 
returned to India through Moscow. 

27. Indira Gandhi visited U.S.A. in March-April 1962. Later in September she 
accompanied Jawaharlal Nehru to London for the Commonwealth Prime Ministers’ 
Conference. In October 1962, in the wake of the Chinese invasion, she visited 
Tezpur in Assam, the nulitary and civil headquarters of the North-East Frontier 


28 Indira vHited London and New York in March-April 1 963. She spent tlie summer 
in Srinagar with her son Sanjay. Towards the end of the year, she visited many 
African countncs — ^Tanzania, RJiodesia, Zambia, Ethiopia and Kenya — on a goodwill 


Prison terms served by Motilal Nehru, Jawaharhl Nehru, Kamala Nehru and 

Indira Gandhi 

Moltlal Nehru 

6 December 1921 — 6 June 1922 Lucknow District Jail (transferred to 

Naimtal Jail in May 1922) 

30 June 1930 — 8 September 1930 Naim Central Prison, Allahabad 

Jmi’aharlal Nehru 

First imprisonment 

6 December 1921 — 3 March 1922 

Lucknow District Jail 

Second imprisonment 

11 May 1922-20 May 1922 

21 May 1922 — 31 January 1923 

Allahabad District Jail 

Lucknow District Jail 

Third impnsonment 

22 September 1923 — 4 October 1923 

Nabha Jail 

Fourth imprisonment 

14 April 1930- 11 October 1930 

Naini Central Prison, Allahabad 

Fifth imprisonment 

19 October 1930 — 26 Januarj' 1931 

Naim Central Prison, Allahabad 

Sixth imprisonment 

26 December 1931 — 5 February 1932 

6 Febriiar)- 1932 - 6 June 1932 

6 June 1932 - 23 August 1933 

24 August 1933 - 30 August 1933 

Naini Central Prison, Allahabad 
Bareilly District Jail 

Dehra Dun Jail 

Naim Central Prison, Allahabad 

Scs’cnth imprisonment 

12 February 1934 -7 May 1934 

Alipur Central Jail, Calcutta 



8 May 1934 - 1 1 August 1934 
(On parole for twelve days — 

1 2 August 1 934 - 23 August 1 934) 

23 August 1934 — 27 October 1934 
28 October 1934 - 3 September 1935 

Eighth imprisonment 
31 October 1940 — 16 November 1940 
17 November 1940 — 28 February 1941 
1 March 1941 -18 April 1941 
19 April 1941 - 3 December 1941 

Ninth iinpnsonmcnt 

9 August 1942 - 28 March 1945 
30 March 1945 - 9 June 1945 

10 June 1945 -15 June 1945 

Dehra Dun Jail 

Naini Central Prison, Allahabad 
Almora Jail 

Gorakhpur Jail 
Dehra Dun Jail 
Lucknow District Jail 
Dehra Dun Jail 

Ahmadnagar Fort Prison 
Bareilly Central Prison 
Almora Jail 

Kamala Nchni 

1 January 1931 - 26 January 1931 Lucknow District Jail 

Indira Gandhi 

11 September 1942 - 13 May 1943 

Nairn Central Prison, Allahabad 

Ganga Dhar Nehru 

Indrani alias Jeorani 



Lalji Prasad Zutshi 



Dvvarka NathTakru 

Ladli Prasad Zutshi 

Lado Rani 

Maharaj Bahadur Takru 
(Maharaj Bhai) 

Bishen Rani 
(Bhabhi Saheb Takru) 

Bansi Dhar Nehru 



Raj Bahadur 

Shri Shridhaia 
(Shndhar Chacha) 

Raj Dulari 
(Raj Chachi) 

Chandra Kumari 

Krishna Handoo 

Janak Kumari 

Dr Jalil Ashgar 

Man Mohini 

A.L. Sahgal 

Shyama Mohini 

S.P. Chopra 








Nandlal Nehru 



Motilal Nehru (Dadu) 

Swarup Ram (Dol Anima) 

Jawaharlal Nehru (Papu) 

Kamala Kaul 

Krishna (Betty, Chhoti Puphi) 

G.P Hutheesing (Raja) 

Indira Nehru (Indu) 

Fcroze Gandhi 

Sarup Kumari 

(Vijaya Lakshnii, Nan, Ban Puphi) 

Ranjit Sitaram Pandit 




Gautam Sahgal 

Harsha Aju 




Ashok Mehta 

I — ■ 1 

Rajiv Gandhi Sanjay Gandhi 



Avtar Krishna Dar 


Jawaharmul Kaul 

Rajpan (Amma, Nani) 

Kamala Kaul 

Jauaharlal Nehru 

Chand Bahadur Koul 
(Chand Mamu) 


(Rup Mami) 

Kailas Nath Kaul 
(Kailas Mamu) 


(Sheila Mami) 

(Bappi, Masi) 

P.N Kathju 

Section I 
Growing Up 

17th October, 1922 


{Original in Hindi} 

Lots of love to dear daughter Indu from her Papu.^ Get -well soon and 
write a letter to Papu. And come and meet me in jail. I am longing to 
see you. Did you try the new spinning wheel which Dadu^ has brought 
for you? Send me some of the yarn which you have spun yourself. 




Love to Papu, 

[30th June, 1925] 
From, Indu^ 


{Original in Hindi} 

11th November, 1925 

Dear Indu, 

I stayed in Rajkot for two days. Chandralekha'* remembered her didda.^ 
She was very happy to see the motor-car you sent her. 

I am now in Bapuji’s^ Ashram. I met Manu Behn.^ Do you 
remember her? 

Your loving, 

L This IS the first extant letter from Jawaharlal Nehru to Indira Nehru. It was written 
from District Jail, Lucknow, in the form of a postscript to a letter addressed to 
Motilal Nehru 

2. Indira’s grandfather, Motilal Nehru. 

3 This IS the first extant letter from Indira Nehru to Jawaharlal Nehru. 

“I' Chandralekha Mehta (nee Pandit); the Pandits’ eldest daughter. 

3 The Kashmiri term for an elder sister. Indira was older than her cousin Chandralekha. 

6 Mahatma Gandhi; affectionately known as Bapu (father). 

7 Manu Mashmwala, a granddaughter ofMahatma Gandhi, Indira had visited Gandhiji 
at Sabarmati with her mother and grandmother m 1922. 




6th June, 1926 

My dear Mummie and Papu, 

I am sorry riiat I wasn’t good. But from today I am going to be good. 
And if I am not good do not speak to me. And I wili try my best to be 
good. And I will do what ever you tell me to do. 

Love from your, 


27th July, 1926 

My dear Papu and Mummie, 

Did you give me a new toothbrush? Ask Mummie if my skipping 
rope is there, I cannot find it. Thank you for your letter. 

I am sending a photo of you and me at Bretaye in the boat on the 

Yesterday all the children had a swimming bath and gymnastics. 
Tell me all about Geneva. I will write a bigger letter next time. 
Give Puphi^ her letter. 

Love from your loving little daughter, 



{Postcard: Original in Hindi} 

27th July, 1926 

Dear daughter. 

There has been no letter firom you. Have you forgotten Mummie and 
Papu? You had promised that you would write to us daily. You might 
get the stamps there. 



1. Aunt, refers to Krishna Hutheesing (nee Nehru), sister ofjawaharlal Nehru. 




{ Original in French} 

28th February [1927] 

Dear Papa, 

Thank you very much for your letter. These past few days the weather 
was bad; yesterday and today again it is nice. How is Mummie? The 
snow is melring fast. It’s not good for skiing but it is fine for sledging. 
The mountains are very pretty. Yesterday a big piece of ice half the 
size of the roof fell, more is going to fall. We are enjoying ourselves. 
This morning I went on the sledge. There is no more snow on the 
trees. I send you my kisses. 




3rd October, 1927 

Indu darling, 

1 w'as very pleased to read your letter to Mummie. I am looking forward 
to getting a letter fiom you myself. 

Mummie has already sent you some Indian stamps. I am sending 
you some more with this letter. 

We all went for a motor drive to the Simplon Pass on Saturday. 
This pass leads fixmi Switzerland to Italy. We have to climb up to it 
and then go down to Italy on the other side. The railway line does 
not climb up. It goes through a long tunnel called the Simplon Tunnel. 
Perhaps you remember tliis tunnel. We passed it when coming from 
Venice last year. 

A friend of mine has sent a beautiful model of an aeroplane for 
you. I shall bring it with me when I come to see you next. 

Wc hope to \dsit you on Sunday next. Please inform Mademoiselle 

Hope you are well and happy. 

Your lovdng, 

1 rincipal of L’Ecole Nouvelle at Be.\', Switzerland 




Sauoy Hotel, 
16tli May, i928 

Papu darling, 

We arrived here at twelve o’clock. We travelled in the train till Dehra 
Dun, we got down at Dehra Dun and went in a car to Mrs Chapman; 
here we changed our clothes and made ourselves clean. Then Pupha 
and Puphi^ rode on horseback while Mummie, Chand and I came 
on dandis? I wanted to ride very much but Puphi said that it would 
be better if I didn’t because I did not have riding clothes. 

Write soon, and tell me when you are coming. 

With love from your loving daughter, 



{Postcard: Original in Hindi} 

23rd August, ■i928 


Do you know this story? Napoleon was strolling about one night. He 
found a sentry fast asleep. According to Army rules this was a serious 
offence. A soldier on duty should not sleep. But Napoleon did not 
wake up the soldier. Instead, he took his gun and started keeping 
watch in his place. 



1. Uncle and Aunt; refers to Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit (nee Nehru), sister of Jawaharlal 
Nehru, and her husband Ranjit Pandit. 

2. A chair conveyance used on hills. 




Amnd Bhawan, 
15th May, 1929 
5.45 a.m. 

Dearest Mummie and Papu, 

Did you receive my two letters? Thanks for the two letters which I got 
yesterday evening. 

Puphi could not find the x-ray anywhere. I know where the belt 
is so I will take it out today. It is only a quarter to six now and I am 

Our exam finished yesterday and as there will be nothing to do at 
school today and tomorrow I have taken a holiday. 

How are you all? 

Yesterday was Tara’s^ birthday and Bibi- had a puja and Puphi, 
Chand and Tara had their food here. 

Pupha went to the kachahri and so he could not have his lunch 

I sent Mummie two letters, one typed, and one like this one. 
Love and kisses to all. 

From your loving daughter, 

Please try and write some letters to me. 

[No date]^ 

Papu darling, 

I am going to tell you something about what happened yesterday. 
Well, we were sitting in the verandah in front of Puphi’s room at 
about four yesterday, when two men came and said a girl fi-om 

1 . 

2 . 

3 . Sahgal (nec Pandit); the Pandits’ second daughter, Chand’s younger sister. 
Pibi Amina: Indira’s great-aunt, Dol Anima’s sister 

Prom extcriwl and internal evidence it appears that this letter was written sonietinie 
between 30th June and 8th September, 1930, when both Motilal and Jawaharlal 
were in N.nni Pnson 



their house had run away from home and had come to Allahabad to 
become a volunteer.^ 

I told them to go to the Congress Office as perhaps she might 
have gone there. 

At quarter to eight in the evening a man from the Khaddar 
Bhandar^ brought her here and said that she was there since morning 
and that she had had nothing to eat. 

On asking her questions I found that she was thirteen years old 
and that on coming she had left a letter for her brother, who was 
smaller than herself, saying that she was going to visit Pandit Jawaharlal 
[Nehru] and that she had taken two rupees for her fare to come here 
and that they were not to worry about her as she would become a 
volunteer and stay in Allahabad. After writing the letter she took the 
money and went to the station, took a ticket for Allahabad and when 
she arrived here she took an ecka^ and told the driver that she wanted 
to be volunteer so the man went to the Khaddar Bhandar and left her 
there. She had her food here and at ten p.m. the two men came and 
took her away, because they said that her mother was crying for her. 
She lived in Babhni. 

Now it is nearly time for this letter to go to you. So with heaps and 
heaps of love to Dadu and you. 




Anaiid Bhaum, 
11th November, 1930 

Papu darling, 

I do not know when Dadu is going to write to you and so I am 
writing now so that my letter may be ready to go to Naini as soon as 
Dadu wishes. 

Dadu has decided to start for Calcutta on the 16th. He is taking 

1. An unpaid political worker of the Congress Party 

2. Under Mahatma Gandhi members of the Congress were expected to wear khadi (ot 
khaddar) liand-spun, hand-woven clotli — ^which became a symbol of the nationalist 
resurgence and anti-imperiahst spirit. Imported cloth was boycotted and burned by 
nationalists. Bhandar means a store. 

3. A two-wheeled vehicle drawn by a horse. 


1 I 

Chhoti Puplii' with him and has also written to Madan Bliai“ to 
come. From Calcutta Dadu will sail for Singapore. The house will be 
so deserted when he is gone. There will only be Mummie and I 
upstairs and Dol Amnia^ and Bibi downstairs. 

On your last interview day** you told me to ask you any question I 
like, in my letter to you, as we cannot have our ev'ening talks now. 
Here is a question I once asked someone when I was in Nainital, but 
I didn’t get any reply. Why do the toes bend downwards when we are 
walking? I have very often noticed this while walking with chappah 
on, and try as I would to keep them straight they somehow bend. 

Vallabhbhai^ and Mahadeo Bhai^ started for Bombay this morning 
at seven thirty. 

It is one thirty now, and I am going to Sundarlalji’s^, Manna Bhai 
and the others’ trial which will take place in the Malaka jail. 

1 have just come back and am going to tell you what happened 
while we were there. We were all sitting in the court room. Shammie 
Didda** and Uma Bhabhi’ were also there. A police inspector came 
and put down two warrants in front of Mr Sucha Singh, who was 
ir)'ing Mannabhai, etc. The warrants were for Shammie Didda and 
Chhoti Puphi and they were arrested and tried there and then with 
the othcrs.Thcy were arrested in Act 188 and got Rs.50 fine, in default 
one month’s simple imprisonment ‘A’ class. Then we came home and 
packed Puphi’s things and bedding and sent them to her. 

In this letter I am enclosing my report of the work I did with my 

Now 1 must close up because after this excitement I am quite tired 

1. Junior Aunt (Krishna Hutheesing). 

- Madin; cousin of K.iin.'il.i Nehru, .n physicwn. 

Swamp Rani Nehru, Mother Nelini. 

Prisoners who were convicted on political grounds were nonnally allowed to meet 
one or two close relations once a fortnight. However, on some occasions even such 
fornughdy intervnews were not permitted. 

^ Sardar Valhbhhhai Patel; campaigner in the nationalist struggle. President of the National Congress, 1931. 

Mahadev Desai: a close .associate of Mahatma Gandhi who also served as his private 
, 'eaetaiy from 1917 till his death in 1942. 

' ■ I audit Sundarhal: a revolutionary nationalist who later became a follower of Mahatma 

|| Nnarn Kumari Nehru’s niece. 

Unu Nehm wife ofjawaharlars cousin, Shamlal Nehni. 



out and my brain is not working at all. I hope to write a longer letter 
next time. Give my love to Pupha & yourself. 

Your loving, 


[December 1930] 

Papu darling, 

I was coming to Allahabad with Mummie tonight, but as I had a 
teeny wish to remain here Dadu told me to stay on and that I would 
have the opportunity of seeing [you] in another fortnight. This is a 
long time to wait, but Dadu called me last night and talked to me for 
quite a long time. By his talk I gathered that he wanted me to stay. So 
although I wanted very much to see you I had to make up my mind to 
do otherwise. 

I think Dadu has also written to you and you may find the cause 
why he wants me to stay in his letter. 

I have finished reading TIte Life of the Bee} I enjoyed it very much. 

I have also begun The Life of the Ant f But as I have only read a few 
pages I have not yet formed my opinion about it. 

After finishing this I will read the book about Garibaldi that you 
gave me. At the present Dadu and Chhoti [Puphi] have both begun it 
and none of them has read the whole of it. 

I will also read the other two books about Garibaldi. Puphi has 
got them here. 

An revoir, Papu darling, with lots and lots of love and kisses. 

From your loving, 

My shorts have been made.- 

1 & 2. Both books are by Maurice Maeterlinck. 




20th June [1931] 

Papu darling, 

Thank you very very much for your letter^ from the tram. I am sorry 
I could not reply immediately. During school days there is very little 
nme left for anything. Today being Saturday, a holiday, I am trying to 
reply to various letters I have received. 

Tell Mummie that I have received the hair pins just now. Thanks 
for them. I have also written to Psyche^ thanking her. 

I do not know whether you will find me looking fatter or not. But 
I have certainly become much fresher. For we have already had the 
rams and it has become very cool and pleasant. 

MrsVakil^ gives me all the fattening things she possibly can to eat. 

Please send my books as Mr Vakil does not know what to teach 
me. You might also send my big & smaU skipping ropes. If you can’t 
find the small one never mind. 

Write to me all about Mummie & yourself With all my love to 
both of you. 

Your ever loving, 



10th November, 1931 

My darlingest Papu, 

We have just come back from Sinhgarh. Now I am feeling very hungry 
and very sleepy. So goodmght. 

1 Letter not traceable. 

2 Goshiben Captain (Psyche), a granddaught er of Dadabhai Naoroji, who was a 
pioneering leader of the national movement in India. 

CoonverbaiJ.Vakil. wife ofJehangirVakil, who along with her husband ran the Pupils’ 
Own School at Poona (and later in Bombay) Indira Nehru studied in this school 
from 1931 to 1934 



11th November, 1931 

Good morning, 

Now I am going to tell you all about Sinhgarh.We went by bus till the 
bottom of the hill. It was nine thirty a.m. then. Then we started 
climbing. The whole way was very steep and parts of it were rather 
narrow. I walked up all the way. We had two dandis. The children sat 
in them by turns. Both Mr & Mrs Vakil wanted me to sit, at least for 
some time, but I would not agree. It’s fim — climbing. When we arrived 
on top we found that [the] house in which we were to stay was locked. 
It was nearly eleven then and we were feeling exceedingly hungry so 
while we were waiting for the mali to come & open the house we had 
food (we had brought some from Poona). We explored everything 
and cleaned the place. We had tea & then our baths. Then we went 
round Sinhgarh. We saw many things, among them were Tanaji 
Malusere’s^ tomb & the place where his hand was cut off. 

Lots & lots of love, 
Your loving, 

Love to Mummie. 


27th December, 1931 

Papu darling. 

Yesterday morning at about nine o’clock Vallabhbhai came with 
Maniben^ to see Mummie. We began talking about your arrest.^ 
Vallabhbhai was perfectly sure that you would not be sent to your old 
home. After great arguments he went home and half an hour afterwards 
we received a phone message from him saying that you & Sherwani'* 
were guests of our Christian Rulers, That very morning we had had 

1. Tanaji Malusere was one of the generals of the seventeenth century Maratha ruler 
Shivaji, who defied the Mughal Empire and founded an autonomous state in Western 
India. Sinhgarh is a fort associated with Sluvaji. 

2. Maniben Patel: daughter of Vallabhbhai Patel, she was jailed for her part in the 
independence movement. 

3. Jawaharlal Nehru was arrested on 26 December 1931. 

4. T. A.K. Sherwani: lawyer. President of the U.P. Provincial Congress Committee, 1 930. 



news of Ghaffar Khan’s^ arrest and most of the arrangements for 
meeting and Hartal had been made. We had a huge public meeting at 
Azad Maidan.Vallabhbhai was not well so he did not attend. 

Mummie is much better. She had been having a little fever in the 
evening but since yesterday she [her temperature] has been sub- 

28th [December] 

1 am going to the meeting just now so I must hurry. I could not write 
earlier in the day as I went to meet Bapuji at the Ballard Pier. I will 
tell you of the reception in my next letter. 

Lots & lots of love & kisses, 
Your loving, 


ist January, 1932 

Papu darling, 

A few days ago I went to see a film of Bapu s reception. To my 
astonishment I found that I had become a film-star without knowing 
it. I was seen handing your letter to him. I look very funny. Yesterday 
I saw you & Mummie also, in a show arranged by the Congress. You 
were asking Mummie to smile. Both of you looked adorable. 

The Working Committee^ sat till two thirty a.m. yesterday and 
made all their plans for the next fight. Bapu thinks he will be arrested 
very soon. He might come to see Mummie tonight. 

With lots & lots of kisses & cargoes of love. 

Ever your loving, 

Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan: Pathan leader who was a close associate of Mahatma 

2. The National Executive of the Congress Party 


I 6 



26th January, 1932 

Papu darling, 

On Saturday tlic 23rd we went to see a glass factory in Talegaon. 
Talegaon is a village on the way to Bombay. It takes about twenty 
minutes to get there from Poona. Our train was at seven fifty a.m.We 
put on the alarm at five thiry, but we were so lazy that we did not get 
up till after six. We walked to the station. We filled up nearly the 
whole of the third-class compartment. All the way we sang songs, 
shouted out jais and made a great deal of noise. When at last we 
reached Talegaon we walked to the factory (we had not taken the 
smaller children with us). We were shown how when soda, lime & 
refined sand are mixed a paste is made. Glass is made out of this paste. 
The paste is put in a pot which goes round and round. Thick iron 
rods are dipped in the pot. By the rotation of the pot, the paste forms 
a bubble on the rod. The rod is then dipped in some acid. This rod is 
hollow and then a man blows through it till the bubble becomes long 
and thicker. It is then placed in a mould & then the vase or whatever 
it is, is nearly ready. But as yet it is stiU hot, so to make it cool it is put 
in a light fire. Now the ends of the vase are still uneven so it is rubbed 
on a big board. And then it is ready. Auntie [Mrs Vakil] bought a few 
jars. Then we returned to the station, only to find that we had just 
missed the train. Anyhow the next one was coming in half an hour, so 
while we were waiting for it we had our lunch. Then we caught our 
train & came back home. 

Pupha’s term^ must be nearly over by now. 

With lots of love and kisses. 
Ever your loving, 

1. Ranjit Pandit, imprisoned with Jawaharlal Nehru. 





Papu dearest, 

After our interview, I went with Dol Amnia to A’bad. On the 27th we 
went to Lucknow to see the Puphis. From there I came away straight 
to Bombay. I travelled in third, in spite of the protests of many people, 
including Dol Amma. I was quite comfortable & everything was all 
right except the people — ladies were frightfully dirty, they ate pan all 
the rime & spat all over the compartment. Most of my time was spent 
by giving them lectures on cleanliness, of which they soon got tired 
so they tried to be as clean as possible, which was a great relief. 

The parcel of books, which you ordered for me from London has 
arrived. As I did not stop in Poona I could not see them. But as you 
have selected them, they are sure to be interesting. 

How is your German getting on?^ Mummie is learning French 
here. We have got a series of French lessons on gramophone records. 
They are rather good and Mummie is progressing well. It is also 
good for me, for if I do not keep it up I will soon forget my French. 

You will perhaps be wondering about the funny way I have written 
the date in this letter.This is how the Americans write it. Pupha showed 
it to me in some book. The month is written first. 

You asked for some snaps of Mums & myself. We have had some 
taken. I hope you will like them. They are fairly good, specially 

Every morning & every evening Mummie goes for long drives. 
She also walks a little every day. 

The mud in Panchgani & also Mahableshwar is red and so aU the 
houses & the barks of the trees also become red. If you wear white 
clothes or shoes & go walking, they will soon be of the same red 

Panchgani is a small place & although it takes only two & a half 
hours to run up here from Poona, it is very much cut off from the rest 

of the world. It is quite dull compared with any other hill stations I 

^ Contrary to her usual practice, Indira is writing the date in the American mode. See 
paragraph four of this letter. 

While serving his prison sentence m Bareilly Jawaharlal Nehru was studying German 



When I came here Pilloo & Mummie were the only occupants of 
this house. But Mrs Bahadurji came three days ago — this house 
belongs to Mr Bahaduiji. And Murree^ arrived this morning. That 
means that there are six of us now & of course the servants. 

Before I came away from Allahabad, after I came back from Bareilly, 
Pupha took me for a picnic on the Jumna & of course on the 
NagKanya? We also invited Mrs Higginbottom’s children & had heaps 
of fun. We set off at about eleven o’clock and stopped on sandbank in 
midstream. Here we had a nice long swim in the river, then we had 
lunch on the sands under Pupha’s big garden sunshade. Then we set 
off again to a huge rock island — called ‘Singhaven Devta’.We explored 
the place tiU Tara, Rita^ & Robert (Mrs Higginbottom’s one and a 
half year old grandchild) joined us. These three had not come with us 
in the morning & had motored from Allahabad at three o’clock [and] 
reached us in about half an hour. Next we played the gramophone & 
had tea — we then played about & packed to go home. The kids were 
sent off again in the car, while we came in the boat. The sunset on the 
river is really wonderful. There are beautiful colours on the water al 
the fiery red ball gradually disappears. 

Oceans of love & tons of kisses, 
From your loving, 

I have written to Padmaja'^ and given her your message. 

Chand has become very pink & sweet. It was her birthday on the 
3rd & she was very excited about it. Our school is giving a grand 
concert on the 26th. I do wish you were here to see it. Do you know, 
I have been using a Spanish word for over ten years and only realised 
it a fortnight ago. In fact I had thought it was my own invention and I 
was a little annoyed at finding that in Spain it has been used for 
centuries. Can you guess the word? It’s just ‘Papu’. I got this knowledge 
from Mrs Wallace — ^Mrs Higginbottom’s daughter, who has been in 

1. Pilloo and Murree: the children of Mr and Mrs D.N. Bahaduiji, with whom Indira 
stayed in Panchgani.A friend of the Nehru family, D.N. Bahadugi w.-is a lawyer and 
played an active part in the national movement. 

2. Ranjit Pandit’s boat. 

3. Rita Dar (nee Pandit): the Pandits’ youngest daughter. 

4. Padmaja Naidu (Bebee); daugliter of Sarojini Naidu, active in politics and social 
service. Governor of West Bengal (1956-66) and Chairman, Indian Red Cross 



Spain. ‘Papu’ is father & ‘Mamu’ is mother. 

Pilloo & others have already decided my future profession. That is 
of course after we have got Swaraj [Independence] — till then every 
one has just one job — fighting. Pilloo saw me helping Mummie with 
the French exercises & decided on the spot that I would make an 
excellent teacher. She told me that I should be a teacher of small 
children, as I adore them & my hobby should be designing rooms, 
clothes & jewellery, etc. 

The other day we went to old Mahableshwar and saw the place 
where the five rivers — ^Krishna, Savitri, Gayetri, Koyna & Yenna rise. 
The people have built a temple on top of the place & have made a 
cow (which looks like anything except a cow) out of whose mouth 
the water of the five rivers falls. We also went to various points there, 
from which we could have lovely views. 

Have you begun my letters' yet? Of course I will not be able to 
see them till — I do not know when. But still it is nice to look forward 
to reading them, it does not matter after what period of time. 

If you were here you would be very pleased with our food. We 
have the usual things: vegetable, fish, eggs, etc., but our salad is extra 
good. We get fresh leaves every day & everybody eats more of it than 
anything else. 

My eyes sometimes pain me whilst reading, so I will go to Bombay 
& show my eyes to the doctor. And if necessary get reading glasses. 

The South Kensington Museum is one of the few places in London 
that I remember quite well. I also sometimes want to see it again. 

Tons of love, 

Bareilly District Jail, 
23rd March, 1932 

Indu darling. 

It was good to have your nice long letter^ and to read of your doings. 
And it was dehghtful to see you, even in a snapshot. I am reminded of 
some lines of an old English poet when I get your letter and think of 

I -These are the letters’ later published as Glimpses of World History. 
^ Refers to letter dated 10 March 1932 (No. 20). 



When, dearest, I but think of thee, 

Methinks all things that lovely be 

Are present, and my soul delighted ... 

So write to me long letters and tell me all about yourself and you 
will give me pleasure and delight and the fortnight of waiting will be 
amply rewarded. 

I saw Mummie after just three months. She looked well and I 
rejoiced. But she told me that you were not as cheerful as you might 
have been, and sometimes you feel a bit depressed. Have you forgotten 
the sovereign virtue of ‘plum pudding’? None of us, least of all you, 
has any business to be depressed and to look it. Sometimes you will 
feel a little lonely — we all do that — but we have to keep smiling 
through it. It is easy enough to smile when everything is right. But 
when everything is not alright? So, cam mia} you must not misbehave. 

Ranjit Pupha told me at the interview that he was going to Bombay 
and from there to the Konkan for a few days. He wanted to know if 
you could accompany him. Of course you can. I hope you will go 
with him and enjoy your little trip and then write to me all about it. 

I cannot accompany you on your trips and excursions but I journey 
none the less in my own way. I have been reading travel books and 
\vith their help I have crossed great deserts and vast glaciers and visited 
strange cities cut off from the outside world. With Sven Hedin^ I have 
been across the Gobi Desert — ‘mother of pearl and opal and above, 
dull sapphire’ — and joined a caravan which took me right into the 
heart of Asia. With others I went to Kashmir and then to Ladakh and 
on over the Karakorum Pass to Chinese Turkestan. And as I made this 
mighty journey, I remembered vividly a little journey I had made, in 
the same direction, long ago, even before you had come to us to 
delight our hearts. It was in 1916 when I went Ladakh way and we 
crossed the Zoji-La, the pass which takes one from Kashmir proper 
to the high tableland which leads ultimately to Tibet. It was a wonderful 
sight from the top of the Zoji-La: on one side thickly wooded Kashmir, 
on the other bare rock with an occasional birch or juniper. From the 
other side of the Zoji-La — La means pass — I made a little excursion 
over the glaciers which had quite an exciting ending. We mounted up 

1. My dear. 

2. Sven Hedin: Swedish explorer His chief field was Central Asia and his book, The Gobi 
Desert, was pubhshed in England in 1929. 



to about 17,000 or 18,000 feet and in crossing a huge ice-field I slipped 
and fell into a crevasse. Nothing much happened as I was roped up 
and was pulled out. But I had a delightful minute of suspense! 

So I journey over mountain and desert and thus I satisfy the 
'Wanderlusf — as the Germans say — that I have. And I make wonderful 
plans in my head of the many journeys we shall make in the future. 
Will you not come with me? And we shall go to our land of Kashmir 
and explore many a beautiful but httle-known valley where the tourist 
does not go. We shall journey on to Sonemarg and follow the old 
caravan road to the heart of Asia. We shall go to Baltistan and Skardu, 
where the snow leopard dwells, and cross many a little river by a rope 
bridge, swinging us high and low over the rushing torrent, till our 
heads feel giddy and our legs become just a wee bit unsteady. We 
shall reach the mighty Indus, mighty even near its mountain home, 
and even that we shall cross by a bridge of ropes. And so to Leh in 
Ladakh and the Karakorum and away from civilisation and newspapers 
and radio and cinema. And, if we so will it, we can foUow the paths 
trod of old by Chengiz Khan and Timur and many a person famous 
in old story. The great desert routes will try us and test our strength 
and perhaps, just when we are feeling exhausted, we shall reach an 
oasis and know the joy that fresh cool water can give, and later dehght 
in the fruits of the desert — melons and watermelons and maybe 

Or, if you prefer, we can go another way and cross the Himalayas 
into Tibet and go to Kailas and Mansarovar the beautiful. There is no 
lack of places we can go to. The world is wide enough. Meanwhile 
the world we five in is a bit narrow! But it is the best of trainings and 
makes us appreciate many a thing which we considered too common 
to think about. 

I have been reading a fife of the poet Byron in French. There is a 
good description in it of his stay in Switzerland. As I read it the Castle 
of ChiUon came before my eyes and the Dents du Midi seemed to 
ghsten in the sunshine. A little beyond was Bex, was it not? And then 
Sierre, over which lies Montana! 

You have asked me for French books — I am afraid it is difficult to 
get them here and then I am no judge. Pupha might give you some. 
But I have thought of a good way — I am writing to Mile Hemmerlin 
and asking her to send you books and French periodicals. I wish you 
would write to her also. She would like to hear from you. You know 
er address: Ecole Nouvelle, La Pelouse, Bex, Suisse. 



I am also asking the Times Book Club in London to send you 
some books. These are really not specially meant for you. They are 
for myself. But you can keep them in Poona and send some at a time 
to me. And of course you will read any that you want to. 

I have stuck to my German and have worked quite hard at it for 
the last six weeks. I have made some progress but it is not easy to pick 
up new languages when one is grey and old like me! That is why 1 
should like you to keep up your French. 

Mummie has left with me her book — The Art of the Body by 
Agniel — you told me that you had read it. Do you do any of the 
exercises? How I love the panther crawl! I wish I could do it with you 
and Chand. Keep up some of these stretching exercises so that your 
body may remain straight and flexible and healthy. I should like you 
to be like the deodars of the Himalayan forests — tall and straight and 
slender and graceful and at the same time strong! 

We have many companions here — squirrels and monkeys and 
pigeons and bats — not to mention the smaller animals — ^bugs & beetles, 
etc. The monkeys sometimes come in the daytime and make faces at 
us. The bats of course come at dusk. We are not friends with them. 
Nor are we friendly with a cat that comes at night in search of food. 
The pigeons are pleasant to see and the squirrels are over bold. I 
watch for many minutes at a time a little squirrel and if I do not move 
it comes right up to me. How daintily it nibbles its food, sitting on its 
hind legs! Sometimes we look at each other and I smile at it. Suddenly 
a realisation comes upon it that it is very near a big mountain of a man 
and it drops its food in dismay. It looks almost hypnotised and then 
hops away. 

I am sorry to say that I have not yet properly begun the series of 
letters to you. I have tried without great success. It is a question of 
mood. I have in a way to take hold of myself and twist myself round 
and look at the past and not the present and the future. Once tlus is 
done it is not difficult to write. I shall try the twisting process and I 
hope to succeed. 

So ‘Papu’ is Spanish! This is indeed interesting. I did not know it. 
As you have been unconsciously using a Spanish word perhaps you 
may find Spanish an easy language to learn. 

I am sorry I cannot be present at your great school concert on the 
26th. But I shall think of you aU that day and await your description of 
it and specially of the part you and Chand played in it. 

So you have decided your future profession. It is a very good one 



and of course one must have a profession. One cannot simply loll 
through hfe, specially when there is so much work to be done. For 
the present anyway each one of us has got his or her work cut out. 

I have written you a long enough letter. I could go on of course, 
but I must not presume too much on the good nature of the jail 
officials.^ I am told that your hoUdays begin in about a month’s time. 
If you hke you can come up then and pay a visit to your old Papu. But 
you must not forget that Papu can stand much but he cannot stand 
one thing — depression and a long face in Indu. So away with 
melancholy and its brood and remember that your job is to keep 
smiling! Laugh and grow fat and when I have news of this I shall 
rejoice. ■ 

Soon we shall have Nauroz and a new year will begin. My love 
and best wishes for you, my dear, and Chand for this year that is 
coining and for many and many a new year. 

Your loving, 


[April, 1932] 

Papu darlingest, 

I am sorry I could not write in time for the last letter. But I got 
practically no time — ^because of our ‘Variety Entertainment’. 

Our show was quite a success. It was a joint affair of our school 
and the Physical Institute. The first item was a play called ‘Vasant’ — by 
us. In it there was singing, dancing — ^it is hardly possible for us to 
have anything which does not include one of these. I wanted to send 
you a booklet of it. but it is in Gujarati and you may not be able to 
read it. I could not take much part because I only came to Poona 
three or four days before the show. I was ‘Mallika’ (a flower) and had 
to take part in most of the singing & dancing, Chand recited a funny 

Hindi poem called Ek tha Adhela & also took part in an English playlet 

1- Nehru was allowed to write one letter a week to one member of his family He wrote 
etters to other relations as enclosures to the main letter, a practice permitted by the 
jau officials at their discretion. 



Pupha came here sometime ago and left Tara & Rita. They are 
both very happy & have improved in health — Rita has gained 1 Vi lbs 
already They have made friends with the boarders and play about all 

Last time when I came to Allahabad in October I told you all 
about our Sahitya Sabha [Literary Society], etc. When I came here 
after seeing Mummie off [at] the station I found that our old working 
committee had been changed — all except myself and two others. 
Formerly our president was one of the teachers. He resigned, saying 
that we should have a president among the students. So a new one 
was elected. This boy used to boss over us and got on our nerves. 
When I came from Bombay he began straight away with ‘Have you 
done this & have you done that?’ Also at our meetings he used to say 
all sorts of things. So I resigned & afterwards many others also. So 
yesterday we had new elections. I am now president! 

My Gujarati is steadily improving and I hope to be able to speak 
fairly well by the end of two months. The Vakils, Chand,Tara, Rita & 
some other children are going to a seaside town — Dumas — for the 
holidays. When I go to Allahabad I will send Chand her bathing suit. 

We have now got nearly forty children — boys & girls in our school. 

We have school from eight thirty a.m. to eleven thirty. Then from 
eleven forty-five to twelve fifteen we have our singing class — the extra 
one. That is all the lessons we do except that I have one hour of 
Sanskrit every alternate day. You will be pleased to know that I like 
Sanskrit much better than I used to. 

I have read all except one of the books you sent for from London. 
I liked them immensely. 

ilth [April] 

Yesterday, we went to the wedding of Mr Vakil’s sister. I was interested, 
as I had never seen a Parsi wedding before. I will tell you all about it. 
The wedding always takes place in the girl’s house. First the girl’s 
sister-in-law garlands both of them & puts the tika. Then the pair go 
& sit on a new pair of chairs & the ‘Dustugi’ — that is a priest — says a 
long prayer & throws rice on them all chat tinre. This lasts for about 
forty-five mins. Then the man puts the ring on the woman’s finger & 
they’re married. We spent the whole day there 6c enjoyed ourselves 
immensely. We played lots of games & when we returned liere- — after 
having dinner — ^Nve were dead tired. We were also late for school this 
morning, as we could. not wake up early enough. 



We have decided to hold a sort of ‘Purnima Samelan’’ — we will 
give some entertainments in the moonlight, on the 20th, that being a 
full moon day. There are only ten days left before the holidays. I am 
looking forward to them and specially as I will be able to see you. 

We are learning two very nice Gujarati songs for the ‘Samelan’, 
one is for the Garba we are going to do — ^it is aU about the joy of the 
moonlight. The other is a translation from the Bengali, which was 
written by Rabindranath Tagore. The translation is by Mahadeo Bhai 

Lots of love and kisses from your ever loving, 



[Wth May, 1932] 

Papu darling, 

1 got a letter from Mile Hemmerhn yesterday. She has mentioned the 
following books: 

Rowaiit Rollaiid by Stefan Zweig 

Goethe by Ludwig 

Michel Angc by Rolland 

Lcs Paroles d’nn Croyaut by Lamermain 

Lc Prisonuicr qtii Chaiitait by Bojer. 

She says that these books are good & if you approve of them she 
will send them. She also thinks that I should read Romain Rolland s 
books on India. 

The parcel of books from the Times Book Club also came yesterday. 
It contained twenty-one books. “ AU evening I sat with one & finished 
this morning. I have begun another, which is so good that some 
newspaper has printed; ‘Give this book to your child & if after reading 
^0 pages, he does not want to read more — send for the doctor.’ 

Ever)' day I have a long sAvini in our swimmmg-bath. My dive is 
niuch better than before but as yet I cannot dive standing erect. But I 

h A meeting held on a niglit of the full moon. 




Se‘’trS"if ’1 “'? ' '’T “™'= ’ 

ie to do It. I also practise under-water swimming— I [am] terrible 

Today is Puphi’s wedding anniversary; so we had metha hhatta) It 
IS ten years since she was married. All I remember of the wedding is 
that someone put melmdi on every one’s feet & hands. I also remember 
something of the ceremony. At that time I was four years old. 

Hills of love, 

^ Ever your loving, 



[Amnd BImum] 
21st May, 1932 

Papu darlingest, 

s^rly this morning we were all waiting impatiently for 
y ur letter (generally it comes on Saturday morning). But when the 

an came we were very much disappointed. Anyhow I hope it 
will come soon — perhaps tomorrow 

™ on the verandah which is on top of the 
pomco. It u quite cool thete and we don’t need a fan. All night ‘Chanda 
s es down at us and keeps away the warmth. But I am afraid 

irl foor nights I 

Ltrh '"' r ^ ““t'in’cs one o’clock, I lie in my bed and 

r,7ml*rTrr°“l make-such funny faces and 

sha^ of^fiL”™' ™ “ “ack, black cLd in the 

oWonJ^sh „ c u'" holes for the eyes and one 

one of the elT mouth and the moon was peeping through 

the world 

Channe mein. 1 “f?' “ “ ''"7 interesting to watch the shapes 

Sent nemo '“"8^' You can watch for hours 

Without getting the least bit tired. 

Fre^notls ” ^"‘hutsday or Tuesday-my parcel of 

French books came from MUe Hemmerlin, There are forty books 



and all look interesting. They have got the most magnificent pictures 
of the mountains and towns of ‘La Belle Suisse’. 

23 rd May 

Your letter^ was very welcome when it arrived this afternoon. As I 
have already written, I had not been swimming till today. This morning 
I went in for fifteen minutes. 

Yes, MUe met Bapu atVilleneuve and later, when Bapu was passing 
Bex she took all the schoolchildren to the station and they sang a 
farewell song in French. Some of my old friends sent me presents 
through Bapu. Mademoiselle sent a box of Swiss iced fruit — ^which 
shows that she still remembers what I hke. 

I am enclosing a hst of the books.^ 

I have read all the new EngHsh books except six or seven. Yesterday 
1 received a small booklet. Labour's Song Book from London. 

Mountains of love. 
Ever your loving, 


1st July [1932] 

Papu dearest, 

I hear that your interviews have been stopped for a month. 
Although I am not there to see you Tm feehng pretty bad that you 
won’t be able to see anyone from home for thirty days. 

I m flourishing except for a bad cold & cough. Chand,Tara & Rita 
are quite well & happy. Rita talks a great deal and has learnt quite a 
lot of Gujarati songs. There is no peace for any one when she is in a 
mood to sing. 

2nd [July] 

I would have written more but for the last few days I am not very 
well. This morning I suddenly felt very giddy & fell down. Mrs Vakil 
sent for a doctor, who said that my tonsils were very much inflamed & 

1 Letter not traceable. 
2- See Appendix. 



I was developing adenoids. He gave me a medicine, to be taken four 
times a day. At present I have 101.4 temp, but it is nothing to worry 
about, I will soon be all right. So 1 finish. 

Lots & lots of love & kisses, 
Ever your loving, 



27th [September, 1932] 

Papu dearest, 

I have just returned from Yeravda Prison.^ Bapu was looking very 
cheerful and certainly much better than yesterday. Yesterday he was 
very bad and the doctors were very anxious. And specially when we 
read that the cabinet was going to meet on Wednesday, we did not 
know what was going to happen. I stayed the whole day with Bapu 
and it was terrible to wait for the telegram to arrive, when the old 
man was getting weaker & weaker. At noon the Superintendent gave 
the good news that the tele, was on its way to Poona. Padmaja, Mummie 
and I rushed to the market and got the best oranges & other fruit that 
we could get. When we got back, we found that there was yet some 
time for the telegram to come, so we waited and each minute seemed 
an hour. When at last the telegram came, Bapu said that he would not 
break his fast, till Dr Ambedkar^ had heard the contents of the telegram 
and agreed to them. Dr Ambedkar was in Bombay, and it would have 
taken quite a lot of time for him to come. And it was already nearly 
five o’clock and Bapu does not eat anything after six. So everybody, 
including Dr Tagore and the jail authorities, persuaded him not to 
wait for Dr Ambedkar. So immediately I prepared the juice of two 
oranges for him. Then Dr Tagore sang a Bengah hymn and the Ashram 
people sang Bapu’s favourite bhajan ‘Vaishnav Jan’. Then Bapu drank 
the juice and everybody was given fruit and sweets as the parshad. 
Then we all went home — chappy after an anxious day. 

Today I am in an extra good mood, for I think that is the happiest 

1 . Indira is describing the end of Mahatma Gandhi’s ‘fast unto death’. 

2. Dr B.R. Ambedkar. leader of the Depressed Classes, who played a significant role m 
drafting the Constitution of India. 



day we have had for a very long time. It is Bapu s sixty-fourth birthday^ 
and he has begun eating fruit and he is much better than before. 

We have a holiday today, and we celebrated Bapu’s ‘Sal gira’ 
[birthday] by having lots of singing. We invited many people & made 
the poet the president of the occasion. He read one of his poems of 
the Gitanjali. He did it very well & we all liked it immensely. 

I think it is very wonderful, how one man can do such a lot. Up till 
now I had thought Bapu a great man, no doubt, but I had somehow 
never thought him capable of this. So this fast has made a great 
impression on me and has taught me a great lesson. These last seven 
days have been terrible. Till the 30th morning I had every hope that 
Bapu would be all right. But on that date, when I saw his condition, 
I thought he would not survive. And from eight o’clock to twelve 
were some of the worst hours I have spent in my life. But now I am 
perfectly assured that Bapu can do the most imaginary things. 

I am sending some snaps of Mummie & myself They were taken 
atjuhu, when I went to Bombay a fortnight ago — I am wearing Goshi’s 
bathing costume — ^it is big enough for two people like me to get into 
at the same time. The dog in one of them is ‘CoCo’ and he belongs to 
Perin.^ He swims very well & we had great fun with him on the 
shores of the Arabian Sea. 

Lots of love and kisses. 
From ever your loving, 

[Dehra Dhh Jail] 
3rd October, 1932 

Darling Indu, 

I liked reading your vivid account of Bapu’s last day of fast. You were 
very fortunate in being near fum during these trying days, though it 
must have been a great trial for you and all others with him. You were 
present at his Delhi fast of twenty-one days also. Do you remember 

In 1932 according to the Samvat Calendar Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday fell on 27th 

- Penn Captain: a social worker and freedom fighter Like Psyche she was a 
granddaughter ofDadabhai Naoroji. 



it? That was a much longer fast but it appears that Bapu suffered more 
this time during his weeks fast. I am not surprised at the impression 
all this must have made on you. Bapu is an extraordinary man and it is 
very difficult to understand him. But then great men are always difficult 
to understand, and there can be no doubt that he is among the greatest 
of men. It is amazing how he conquers his opponents by his love and 
sacrifice. By his fast he has changed the face of India and killed 
untouchability at a blow. 

You have met, probably for the first time, another great son of 
India — Rabindranath Tagore. He is very different from Bapu, but he 
is a great writer and artist and it is a privilege to meet him. 

Poona was the centre of India for some days and all eyes were on 
it. You were in the middle of the excitement. Some little bit of the 
excitement came here too, as elsewhere, and we followed developments 
anxiously. I was so pleased to get a long telegram fronr Bapu. He took 
the trouble to tell me in it that he had seen you and Chand & her 
sisters and that you were looking well! 

WeU, the excitement is over now and Bapu leaves his mango tree 
and goes back to his cell,^ and you go back to your school routine, 
and I, well, I remain where I was! And I read and write and spin and 
stand on my head.There is a new diversion. We have got baby squirrels. 
Two of them were picked up one day in our barrack and my 
companion here took charge of them and became their nurse. I named 
them Tit and Tat. They were very small and required a deal of care. 
My friend spent most of the day cleaning them and feeding them 
every two hours and sunning them and playing about with them — I 
joined in the last activity. Quite a cunning way was devised to feed 
them and a very serviceable feeding bottle was made out of a fountain 
pen filler and cotton wool. Cotton wool beddings were made for 
them, and altogether they got more care than the average baby boy or 
girl does. We grew quite fond of them and as they grew they became 
friendlier and used to run up to us. But the place they liked best was 
a pocket, where they would curl themselves up and rest quite content. 
But this was not to last long. Litde Tit fell ill and began to behave in a 
strange way. One day it got stuck in a mousehole and in trying to pull 
it out, its tail came offl It did not long survive this tragedy, and that was 
the end ofTit. Curiously enough on that very day a ffiird little squirrel 

1. Mahatxiia Gandhi had undertaken his fast in the open compound of" the jail under a 
mango tree. 



dropped down from a branch in our barrack and was caught. So again 
we had two. I named the new one Twee. Tat and Twee soon made 
friends and are now on the best of terms. 

Soon you will have your birthday and you will actually become 
fifteen — what a big girl you are now. I have been wondering what 
you would care to do when you grow up, what your special subject or 
business in life would be. Of course there is no hurry to decide this 
for many years, but if one wants to do anything it is as well to do it 
well, and to do it well one has to be trained for it. When one goes to 
the university one has to choose one’s subjects accordingly. Some 
time or other you would naturally hke to go to a university and study 
some subjects which you like. In India today we are placed m a great 
difficulty, for almost all the universities are official and neither you 
nor I would care to have anything to do with them. Besides they are 
not much good and I do not care for the way they teach. The few 
non-official universities in India are better in some ways but they are 
not much good either. No one can say what will happen in our country 
during the next few years and it is difficult enough to make plans for 
the future. It seems to me however that it would be a good thing if 
you went to a foreign university when the time for this comes. A 
foreign university might mean an English university or a Swiss or 
French. I would personally like you to spend a Httle time at both an 
English and a Continental university. But all these are castles in the air 
at present. I have merely mentioned them because I have been thinking 
about them and I wanted you to give some thought to the subject. 
There is just one question which arises now. If one has to go to a 
university some kind of entrance examination has to be passed for it. 
If one keeps this in view one can easily prepare for it. I do not like 
examinations as a rule but to some extent one has to put up with 
them.The only examination I can think of which is available m India, 
is the Cambridge Senior. Perhaps there are others which I do not 
know of. I should hke to discuss this matter with Mr Vakil, as he 
might be able to make a helpful suggestion. Perhaps you might show 
him this part of the letter and have a talk with him on the subject. 
Then you can write to me what you and he think about it. 

I do not like the snapshots Mummie has sent me. They are no 
good. Send me a better one of yours. 

Your loving, 






4tli October [1932] 

Papu dearest, 

In my last letter^ I forgot to tell you that on 20th September, when 
Bapu began his fast we all fasted here & had prayers. We also entered 
a new pupil. Of course pupils are entered nearly every week. But this 
was a new kind — one, like whom we have never had before. Can 
you guess who she was? She was the daughter of our mehatranfi — an 
untouchable. Of course she is to be taught free of charge. Her clothes, 
books, etc., will also be supplied by the school. She is five years old & 
her name was Ura, but we had changed it to Urvashi. She is very 
sweet & also bright. The first day I bathed her & so she is very friendly 
with me. 

About two months ago on the Coconut Day & some bigAkadashf 
holiday in August we all went to Bijapur and saw the palaces made by 
the Mughal kings'* at the time of Chand Bibi.^ The first & last thing 
we saw, was the best. It was the Gol Gumbaz.^ The most marvellous 
thing about it was the whispering gallery. We tested it by whispering, 
talking, shouting & singing. Even the tick of a small wrist-watch could 
be heard distinctly by people standing right at the other end. I do not 
know the exact distance, but I can say that it was a great deal. Another 
we liked very much was the Asar Mahal;^ this had very fine old frescoes. 
First we had put up at the travellers’ bungalow. But the food was 
simply rotten. We could have stuck to it, but it was also very expensive. 
So Mr Mirchandani invited us to stay with him. Mr Mirchandani is 
the Asst. Collector of Bijapur. He was very kind to us & we enjoyed 
ourselves immensely. When we were returning we shouted, 
‘Mirchandani Kaka ki Jai3 He also presented our school library with an 
expensive set of Children’s Dictionar}', consisting of eight volumes. He 

1 . Refers to letter dated 27 September 1932 (No. 26). 

2. Cleaning woman. 

3. Festivals in the Maharashtra region. 

4. The p.ilaces were actually built by the Bahmani Rulers of the region. 

5. Queen of Bijapur in medieval times who fought against the Mughal Emperor Akbar. 

6. Circular dome, a seventeenth century building in Bijapur. Its dome — IH 
diameter — is one of the largest in the world. 

7. A palace in Bijapur built at the same time as the Gol Gumbaz. 



told us about your visit to the place just before your arrest. 

All revoir, Papu darling and with heaps & heaps of love & kisses, I 

Ever your loving, 


Dehra Dun Jail, 
23rd January, 1933 

Indu darling. 

Our interview after seven and a half months has come and gone, and 
you are again far away in Poona. It was good to see you looking 
healthy and well, but what is the good of having brief interviews and 
trying to msh through all one has to say with one eye on the watch all 
the time? Of all the many things I wanted to tell you and ask you, very 
few came to my mind at the time. I shall not see you again for many 

I have written to Mr Vakil suggesting that you might prepare for 
the Cambridge Senior and not for the Matriculation. The Senior will 
probably fit in better with a future course of study in Europe. Where 
this future course is going to be I do not know. We shall have to 
consider this later on together. There is no hurry. Much will depend 
on what you want to be. Have you thought of this ever? Last year you 
wrote to me once that you wanted to be a teacher. To teach others is a 
very wonderful thing but of course one can only teach after one has 
learnt a lot oneself. There are many other fascinating kinds of work in 
the world but to do anything well a great deal of training is necessary. 
Boys or girls in India have not had many professions or lines of activity 
open to them. Large numbers of boys want to become lawyers or 
take [entrance examinations into the civil] services and even girls are 
trying to go the same way. But this is just a way to earn money. It is 
not good enough just to earn money, although in our present world 
some money has to be earned. What is far more important is to do 
something that is worthwhile and that does good to the larger society 
we live m. I dislike intensely my own old profession, that of a lawyer. 
1 call it an unsocial profession, for society does not profit by it. It 
makes people selfish and just clever enough to exploit others. I would 
not therefore call the lawyers profession a worthwhile one. He does 



not create anything or add to the good things of the world. He merely 
takes a part of other people’s belongings. 

There are other unsocial professions also like the lawyers. Indeed 
the most honoured people in India still are those who do nothing at 
all and merely live in luxury on what their parents have left them. We 
need not consider all these unsocial people. 

What are the social and useful forms of activity? There are so many, 
I cannot even give a list of them. Our present day world is so 
complicated that thousands of kinds of activity are necessary to keep 
it going. As you grow and study and your circle of knowledge widens 
you will have some glimpse of these varied activities. Millions of 
people in different parts of the world producing goods — food, clothing 
and innumerable other things; millions of others carr5dng these goods 
to others and distributing them. You buy something in a shop. Behind 
the shop there are aU manner of factories and machines and workers 
and engineers, and behind the factories are the fields and mines 
supplying materials. It is all very complicated and fascinating, and the 
worthwhile thing to do is for each one of us to help in this useful 

We may be scientists, for science today is at the back of everything; 
or we may be engineers or those who apply science to man’s everyday 
needs; or doctors who apply science to lessen human suffering and 
root out diseases by hygiene and sanitation and other preventive 
measures; or teachers and educationists training aU ages from babies 
up to grown men and women; or up-to-date modern farmers on the 
land, increasing the yield of the land by new scientific devices and 
thus adding to the wealth of the country, and so on. 

What I wanted to tell you was that we are all members of a huge 
living thing called society, which consists of aU manner of men and 
women and children. We cannot ignore this and go our way doing 
just what we please. This would be as if one of our legs decided to 
walk away regardless of the rest of the body! So we have to fit in our 
work so as to help society in functioning. Being Indians we shall have 
to work in India. All manner of changes are going to take place in our 
country and no one can say what it -will be like a few years hence. But 
a person who is trained to do something that is worthwhile is always 
a valued member of society. 

I have written all this just to make you think on the subject. Of 
course I want you when you grow up to be strong and self-reliant and 
well trained for useful work. You do not want to depend on others. 


3 5 

There is no hurry to decide. 

If you go to Europe to carry on your studies you must know French 
well. I should have liked you to know German too as this is very 
useful in many things. But that can wait. The younger you are the 
easier it is to learn languages. 

Do you know, you are just about the age now that I was when I 
first went to England with Dadu and was put in Harrow School. That 
was long long ago — twenty-eight years ago! 

We had hail here today and all the mountains are covered again 
with snow. You were not lucky enough to see this fine sight. 

All my love and kisses, 
Your loving, 


28th January, 1933 

Papu darling, 

There are two more boarders now — ^both sisters. They are Parsis firom 
Bombay. One is my age and the other is only a few months older 
than Tara, but she is nearly as tall as Chand. Jamnalalji’s^ son — Kamal 
Nayan — is also coming to study here. He will stay here, but his food 
will be cooked by his own cook in a separate room. He is about 
eighteen, but is very tall & broad. He will look hke a giant amongst 
the rest of us. He will most probably come by this evening. 

Auntie [Mrs Vakil] has now kept a matron to look after the house 
and the children, apart from school hours. She is also coming today. I 
haven’t seen her yet — she is a Parsi. Some days ago we had the election 
of the working committee of ourVidyarthi MandaP (we have it every 
term). Everybody wanted me to be the general secretary again, but I 
refused. It’s such a lot of work and I’d been doing it tiU now and was 
quite tired of it. So now I’m the nyayadhish — judge. I have to settle 
the quarrels of the children and see that everybody keeps our rules 
properly. This is the post in which one has to do the least work. 

Jamnalal Bajaj' a businessman and industrialist who was prominent in the freedom 

2 Students’ Union. 



Tomorrow our school is going to a picnic to a place calledVithalvadi. 
We will start in a bus at seven thirty and will return in the evening. 
The place is a very beautiful spot some miles from Poona. It is a 
stream on whose banks there are nice shady trees. It is the ideal place 
for a picnic. 

With a huge big hug and a bagful of kisses. 

Always your loving, 


Delira Dun Jail, 
7th February, 1933 

Indu darling, 

You must have been not a little surprised to find from the postcard I 
sent to Mr Vakil that I had changed my mind about your appearing 
for the Matric. I must apologise to you for this quick change! When 
you came here we hardly talked on this subject. I dishke the Matric as 
an examination simply because it is meant to open the door to some 
of the universities here which I do not fancy. So I told you not to 
bother about it. I also wrote accordingly to Mr Vakil. Two days after 
writing to him I received a letter firom him. In this letter he mentioned 
several things which made me change my mind. The first was that 
many of your fellow students were preparing for the Matric and it 
would make it pleasanter for you to study with them and have a 
common aim. To work singly and on one’s own account is apt to get 
rather boring. The preparation for the Matric would not come in the 
way of your Senior later on but would be a help. And then exams are 
funny things. If one is not used to them, one gets worried and flustered 
at the time and is unable to put down even what one knows. This is 
just a question of getting used to it, as there is no reason why one 
should worry. Mr Vakil suggested, and I think rightly that a simpler 
exam like the Matric would help you in getting used to exams and 
then later whe'n you appear for the Senior you would feel much more 
at home. These were the reasons which made me change my mind. 1 
hope you agree. I gathered from Mr Vakil’s letter that you were quite 
agreeable to take the Matric. So go ahead! By the way, when is this 

Your school, as you know, is a private school. One might almost 



call it something between a home and a school. As such it has certain 
advantages which an ordinary school has not got and at the same time 
there are certain disadvantages. The advantages are that you get more 
care and attention and affection and a kind of home life. That is a very 
great thing and it has made me happy to know that you are with 
friends and are well looked after. If you had been at an ordinary 
school I would have been anxious about you. The disadvantages of a 
private school are that you have few companions. A big school is a 
world in itself and prepares one in a way for the wider world, or at 
any rate for the university. At present you may feel rather cooped up 
occasionally and wish to have more companions. But soon enough 
you will enter the wider sphere of a university or wherever you go to 
continue your studies and you will have crowds of companions there. 
You have a bare year more for your present school work. A year is not 
a very long time. Employ it to fit yourself mentally and physically for 
the bigger world you may enter next year. 

I am interested to know that now you are the NYayadhtsh of your 
school society. If this means less work for you, your school children 
must be very well-behaved. 

I hope you enjoyed your picnic to Vithalvadi. 

Love from your loving, 


Dehra Dun Jail, 
2i$t February, 1933 

Darling Indu, 

Yesterday I sent you two books. One was a child’s book, Toolteoo. I 
hope you wiU not think it beneath your grown-up dignity to receive 
a book for children! 

The other book was Bernard Shaw’s play Saint Joan. Do you 
remember seeing this play in French in Paris, when a little Russian 
woman made a charming Jeanne? We also saw the play in English 
later but I do not remember if you were with us then. It is a very fine 
play. Some parts of it may strike you as a bit dull. But the story is a 
great one and it bears reading and re-reading. As Jeanne is an old 
favourite and heroine of yours, you will like it. 

Mummie writes to me that someone from Austria came to see her 



accompanied by Bijju Bhai^ and he offered to take you away 
immediately to Vienna for schooling! Vienna is a very beautiful place; 
it is the home of music. The Viennese are delightful people but their 
country is having a terrible time at present. Puphi told me that a 
German lady, who stayed in Anand Bhawan recently, was keen on 
making arrangements for your education in Germany. Plenty of people 
seem to be interested in your future education besides your father 
and mother! Well, perhaps some day, before very long, you will go 
away to a far country to carry on your education, leaving us rather 
lonely here. We have trained ourselves for it by long spells in jail! 
Anyway, we shall put up with it of course, for it is more important that 
you should have good training and every opportunity to fit yourself 
for the work that may lie ahead of you, than that we should have the 
selfish joy of seeing you fi:equendy and having you near us. 

Dol Amma or Dadi — what do you call her now? — ^will probably 
go to Poona next month. Bapu wants her to stay there for a while 
near him. 

Love from your loving, 


Dehra Dun Juil 
20th March, i933 

Indu darling, 

. . . I am writing to you today, specially as in a few days there will be 
Nauroz and the new year (according to the Samvat Calendar) will 
begin, and I must send you my love and good wishes for this New 

I am sending you a book also as a Nauroz gift. This is Van Loon’s 
Geography. The writing part of it is not up to much and is full of errors 
and wrong statements. Allahabad, you will be interested to know firom 
it, is the holy city of the Musalmans, because of its name! Besides I do 
not like his style of writing, American or whatever it may be. But the 
pictures are really good. The outside cover happens to be a map of 
the world. Take it off and give it to Mr Vakil. He might like to hang it 
in school. 

1. Braj Kumar (B.K.) Nehru, son ofjavvaharlal’s first cousin Brijlal Nehru. 



Some time ago you wrote to me about the delights of having a 
good imagination and imagining all manner of things. Imagination is 
certainly an excellent thing so long as it helps us on to act in this 
world. But if imagination means just losing oneself in the air and 
losing contact with the world and what one has to do in it, then it is 
not much good, and it is apt to make one just a selfish little cloud of 
humanity thinking of oneself and of nothing else. 

I do not know what you will do in after life. It is difficult, and not 
necessary, to decide so early. But whatever you do I have hoped that 
you will do It well and distinguish yourself in it. I have wanted you to 
play a worthy part in the world and to be full of life and intelligence 
and activity. I hope you will do ‘so. 

Your loving, 

Dehra Dti/i Jail, 
3rd April, 1933 

Indu bien aimk} 

My interview will fall due on 25th April. I should like you to be 
present then. If you are delayed in reaching here by a day I can 
postpone the interview for a day or so. But I should not like to 
postpone it for long as Mummie will be waiting for it here. 

I am glad you are doing Chemistry. Chemistry was one of my 
special subjects in wliich I took my degree at Cambridge. The other 
subjects were Geology and Botany. I am afraid I do not remember 
much that I learnt in those far-off days. And yet, the study of science 
makes a tremendous difference to a person and I am very grateful to 
science for the help it has given me in life. The help has been chiefly 
in the training it has given and the outlook of the mind. It was because 
of my early scientific training and outlook that I wrote those letters to 
you to Mussoorie, which were published later. 

Almost all our modern life is based on science and a person who 
does not know something about science is rather lost in the modern 
world. Science really means the finding out of truth by experiment, 
and not merely accepting facts just because somebody has said so. 

1 Loved One. 



Please tell Mr Vakil that you will be spending most of your holidays, 
with us (or near me) in Dehra Dun. I hope both Mr & Mrs Vakil are 
well now and will have good rest after their strenuous term-time. 

All my love, sweetheart. I am looking forward so much to seeing 

Your loving, 

Dehra Dun Jail, 
2nd May, 1933 

Indu darling, 

You were not looking the picture of health when I saw you that day! 
I hope you have got rid of your pain and fever. You must have caught 
a chill. The weather is so changeable here and one must be careflil. If 
you have still any pain in the neck have it massaged with the almond 
oil I gave Mummie. 

Don’t read too much here — ^walk and run and generally live a 
physical life. Of course too much of the physical life is apt to be 
boring and the luind must be kept well oiled and functioning. But 
the holidays are not meant for hard mental work. Also I have often 
felt that you read rather fast. In doing so one is often liable to miss 
much in a book. Some light books of course have to be read fast; 
there is little in them. But a worthwhile book deserves a little more 
time and attention. Think of the pains and the great deal of thinking 
that the author has put behind what he has written, and when we just 
rush through it we miss his real meaning, and forget soon enough 
what we read. 

A very good habit to develop is to keep a notebook in which we 
can jot down anything that pleases us or strikes us specially in a book 
we read. These notes of ours help us to remember much and we can 
always go back to them with interest. In jail I have specially developed 
this habit and I am now running my seventeenth notebook! 

I hope anyway that you will read my series of letters to you rather 
slowly and a bit at a time. Don’t rush them; otherwise they will bore 
you tremendously. They are not very light reading. 

During our last interview I talked and talked and talked. Terrible, 
was it not? Like a tap left open! Next time you will have to do the 



talking and I shall listen; and if I try to talk too much, stop me. I keep 
bottled up for two weeks and then when I get a chance I am apt to 
rush away with it. 

There are plenty of birds in Dehra Dun at present. I wish I knew 
all their names. I suppose your garden has many of them. There is the 
koeJ of course, and the ‘brain fever bird’, I think that is the name. Why 
this curious name has been given to it I don’t quite know, unless it is 
because its persistence is likely to give people brain fever! I must say 
that it IS very trying sometimes. Its four notes are pleasant enough but 
ceaseless repetition night and day — ^rain or sunshine — ^is too much of 
a good thing. It goes on hour after hour. I do not know its Hindustani 
name but it is referred to in a variety of ways. People here say its four 
notes mean main sola tha^. Up in the hills they say the bird sings 
Knklial Pako,^ kakhal being something grown in the fields. This is the 
time for it to ripen & so the bird announces it! You can imagine 
almost anything out of the four notes — utho jago? A powerful noise it 
makes — it carries a good way. 

Bapu has hurled another thunderbolt'* at us and I do not know 
what is going to happen. 

Au tevoir, bien aimee and love. 

Your loving, 

Dehra Dun Jail, 
16th May, 1933 

My darling Indu, 

I was just thinking that you ought to pay a little visit to Mussoorie, 
and had decided to write to you about it, when news came that you 
were going to do so. I am glad you are going or perhaps have already 
gone. Dehra Dun is at the best of times rather a quiet and dull place 
and I don’t suppose you have many acquaintances here. A little change 

1 was sleeping. 

2- The crop is ready 
3. Rise awake 

A fast undertaken by Mahatma Gandhi in support of the untouchables, whom he 
called Harijans. 



now and then will do you good and cheer you up. 

That is as it should be. We are all sometimes rather apt to get hot 
and bothered. But it is rather siUy, don’t you think? And it makes us 
look a bit ridiculous to others. No one who is excited and worked up 
looks his best. Of course we can’t always help getting a Httle excited 
but it is always a sign of a crack in our education or training. After all, 
what is the whole end and aim of education — from one point of 
view at least? It is; not to be hot and bothered whatever happens and 
to fit oneself to the people one comes across and try to cooperate 
with them. In India, I am afiraid, one is always coming across people 
who are losing their tempers and generally making a nuisance of 
themselves. Perhaps they think that they cut a fine figure, not realising 
how siUy they look. They shout and curse at servants, a thing you 
hardly ever see in the West. In England, among decent people, it is 
considered the limit of bad form to shout at a servant, for the poor 
servant is not in a position to answer back. It is like kicking a person 
who is down. And yet in India most people indulge in this degrading 

You seem to have frightened Bebee about my health and she has 
sent me a letter fuU of worry and anxiety. How did you think, my 
dear, that I was languishing away? Perhaps the long stream of talk that 
I indulged in! I am keeping remarkably well and little things, like 
applying iodine for an old pain at the side, have nothing to do with it. 
In your letter you tell me that you had a terrible headache. Do you 
know that I hardly know — in spite of my forty-three years — ^what a 
bad headache is — or for the matter of that even a mild one? 

We have had two interviews, you and I, and on both the occasions 
I have done most of the talking. A jail interview is not a natural way of 
meeting; one feels a little constrained and the time limit oppresses 
one. Still, I would like you next time to teU me something about 
yourself and your school and what you would like to do. If you do not 
tell me how you feel how can I help you? The secret of doing a thing 
well, whatever it may be, is to cooperate Avith others in the doing of it. 
Do you know that in school and in homes there are supposed to be 
two kinds of children who do not make good progress and who give 
a lot of trouble? They are called problem children. One is the spoilt 
child who has been used at home to getting everything he or she 
wants without working for it or any other trouble. The other is the 
neglected child whom people at home, usually in large fatnihes where 
there are many children, ignore and who is thus not properly looked 



after. Both the spoilt child on the one hand and the neglected one on 
the other get little chance of cooperating with others, of working 
together with others in a common undertaking. So they do not develop 
the habit of cooperation and all their subsequent troubles are said to 
be due to this. It is because of this that they become what one called 
problem children who offer special problems to their teachers as to 
how to deal with them.The spoilt child when he or she goes out into 
the world expects everyone to pat him on the back aU the time as he 
was patted at home. Of course nobody does so and the spoilt child 
gets very angry and blames everybody when really the fault is his 
own and not other people’s. The neglected child has been badly 
treated at home and is not used to meeting people. So when he goes 
out, he keeps apart from others and feels dissatisfied and angry and 
blames everybody. 

This is not so with children only, but with grown-ups also. Most 
of us are either spoilt or neglected and so have grown up rather 
crooked and we are always blaming others for our own faults. The 
right thing of course is to be neither; to be something in between the 
two, healthy in mind, meeting others and always trying to cooperate 
with them and doing one’s own share of the job without expecting 
others to do it. 

Children, naturally, do not and cannot understand all these niceties. 
They behave as they have been taught to behave or as they have seen 
others behave. I am writing all this because you are a sensible girl and 
I can speak to you more as a friend than as a daughter of mine. I 
know you will understand. Your father was himself a bit of a spoilt 
child. For many years he was the only child, for his sisters came long 
afterwards, and only children are apt to be spoilt by their parents by 
too much affection. I suppose he still bears traces, and very evident 
traces, of having been spoilt not only by his parents but by so many 
other people! You are an only child also and a dearly loved one and 
perhaps unconsciously your parents and grandparents have spoilt you 
just a wee bit also and made you expect much in the world that you 
may not find there. I cannot judge, neither can you, for we are both 
partial and we are too near each other to have a good view. But I 
imagine that however much we may have erred, led away by our 
exceeding love for you, recent events or rather public happenings 
since your childhood upwards have strengthened you and stiffened 
you and pulled you up from the spoilt variety which always thinks of 
itself and little of others. 



I do not know why I am writing on like this. It is more of a talk — 
as if you were sitting by me. What I began with was this — that I should 
like you during our next interview to have a talk with me about 
yourself and your school and your ideas in general about the future. 
As you know, your time in your present school will end before long. 
What is more important is the next step and we must have a talk 
about that and discuss it among ourselves and cooperate together to 
make this step a real good one. So, my dear, that must be the 
programme for 23rd May, nine a.m. But only if you are willing and 
will cooperate. 

I hope Rust Quhan Rust, photographer] will make some good 
pictures of you both in a frock & in a sari. 

Your loving, 

There is a delightful story about a lion cub in the New Statesman I am 
sending. It is at page 503 & is called ‘The Lion that Lost its way’. 


28th May [1933] 

Mon cher^ Papu, 

On the 6th we will have our last interview and then I will go back to 
Poona and will not be able to see you tiU after your release. Anyhow 
we will write every fortnight and think of each other every day. 

Nineteen hours more and Bapu will be sipping orange juice. Every 
day we eagerly looked out for the newspapers to find out his condition 
but somehow from the very beginning we never expected to find that 
there were any complications. Indeed if there had been the slightest 
trouble I would have been surprised. Wonderful old man Bapu is. 

Tomorrow at about the time Bapu breaks his fast Mummie has 
asked twenty Harijan children to come here. They will be bathed, 
dressed in khadi and given some food. 

Eternally your loving, 

1. Myde.'ir. 



Dehra Dun Jail, 
30th May, 1933 

Indu bieu aimee. 

Yes, a week today we shall have our interview, the last for a long 
while. It has been very delightful to have seen you so many times 
during these past weeks. Jail interviews are of aU things perhaps the 
most unsatisfactory, and yet one must learn to be thankful for small 
mercies, and even these unsatisfactory meetings become like oases in 
a desert. 

The photographs were really too bad. The one in profile is not so 
bad but I do not care for that very much either. I am surprised at Rust 
making a mess of the job. It is obvious that you are feeling 
uncomfortable and being made to pose and smile to order and that 
would spoil any photograph. It is absurd to try to smile m this forced 
way. A photographer should made the sitter feel as unself-conscious 
as possible. The sitter should really forget about the photograph. 

During our last interview, as usual, I held forth to you for a long 
time and gave you what I considered was good advice. But too much 
good advice is a nuisance, is it not? I hope I did not bore you too 
much. I am so anxious to be of some help to you if I can that I 
sometimes run away with my ideas. The world is not always a pleasant 
place to live in and all manner of problems arise. So, thinking that 
perhaps I can help you, I sometimes \vrite to you or talk to you on 
these subjects. 

It is a very foolish thing to shut our eyes to difficulties and problems. 
They do not vanish away by our following the example of the ostrich 
and burying our heads in the sand.There is conflict and trouble enough 
in the world. Let us face them and where necessary even take part in 
the conflict. But this does not mean that we should create conflict or 
imagine conflict or trouble where there is none. The world is 
troublesome enough. Why make it worse? Can anything be more 
foohsh? And yet that is exactly what many of us do by picking out 
faults in others and imagining grievances. 

The thing to remember is that it is unworthy and undignified to 
run away fi-om trouble. Real troubles have to be faced and if necessary 
fought; imaginary troubles are to be removed by frank talks. To mope 
and nurse a grievance secretly is a sign of weakness and foUy. It is 
most undignified. Discuss the matter, have it out, try to understand 



the other party’s viewpoint, and tell him or her your own. Probably 
our misconceptions will be removed by this and our anger will 
disappear even though we may not agree with the other party. 

There are many things which deserve our anger; many things 
against which we have got to 6ght. Are we going to waste our energy 
and our strength and our righteous anger over the trivial things of life 
or the really big things? Only foolish persons get angry at obstacles. 
Does one get angry at a stone against which one has stumbled, or 
shout out at the darkness because we cannot see? So also with the 
human beings we come across. It is no good shouting at them or 
getting angry at them. Try to understand them, try to cooperate with 
them and, if necessary, even fight them, but don’t lose your temper or 
your self-control. 

I write all this although the time is yet distant when you will have 
to face the big problems of the world. For the present you must not 
worry about these things. You must keep care and worry away fi:om 
your youth and grow up healthy and strong in mind and body. 

There is a passage written by Bernard Shaw which appeals to me 
tremendously. It runs as follows: 

This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose 
recognised by yourself as a mighty one; the being thoroughly 
worn out before you are thrown on the scrap heap; the being a 
force of nature, instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments 
and grievances, complaining that the world will not devote 
itself to making you happy. 

I hope you will have an enjoyable three or four days in Mussoorie 
and return freshened up with bright eyes and a bright heart and a 
touch of pink m your cheeks! And so, carissima mia, auf wiederseheii^ 
(which is a siUy mixture of Italian & German). 

Your loving, 

1 . My dearest, till we meet again. 



Dchra Dun Jail, 
27th June, 1933 

Darling Indu, 

I TOS very glad to get your letter’ from Poona. 

But the importance of science really consists in teaching us the 
way of experiment, and training our minds so that we may apply this 
method to life’s problems and difficulties. If more people had a 
scientific training there would be far less of unreason and bigotry and 
conflict in the world. 

As for my recommending to you good books to read, I shall gladly 
do so. 

Why don’t you read some of the famous old novels in English and 
French? They ^vill be light reading and at the same time good reading. 
Dickens, Scott and Thackeray are all good in their way and each very 
different fi-om the other. You may like one and not the other. Victor 
Hugo or Dumas are fascinating. Reading these classic French stones 
you will improve your knowledge of French. 

There is a strange magic about good literature which is wonderfully 
refi'eshing and soothing. This magic comes to us slowly as we make 
friends with good books, and when we have begun to feel it, we have 
found the key to the wonderland of books. They never fail us, these 
friends that neither age nor change. They have been dear companions 
to me, especially in prison, and I have got more pleasure from books 
than from almost anything. There is only one other thing which is, in 
Its own way, more magical, more wonderful, and that is music. I have 
always regretted my ignorance of it. How much I have missed because 
of this! Literature, art, music, science — all make our life rich and deep 
and varied. They teach us how to live. 

Your loving, 

Letter not published 





2 fid July, 1933 

Papu darling, 

I can never express myself well in letters. But there is a strange pleasure 
in writing to you — I feel I am in quite another and a very happy 

About a week ago Mrs Naidu^ came to see me. I told her I would 
like to see Bapu and she took me there.^ Bapu was not very pleased 
at my delay in coming to him and as soon as I told him my difficulty, 
he arranged for the car. So now we have decided that every Sunday he 
will have a car sent between ten and eleven. Today I ■will probably 
have my lunch at Parnakuti. Bapu is much better now and very 
cheerful. He cracks jokes in liis usual old way. 

My eyes were troubling me since some time. Mr Vakil took me to 
a certain Dr Patvardhan to be examined, the result being that I will 
have to wear specs all day — whether I am reading or not. 

We have changed our style of eating altogether. We eat pure Gujerati 
food exactly in the Gujerati way. We have left off meat & fish. I like 
this food much better and find it agrees with me. 

There is a strong rumour here that you are going to be released in 
time for the meeting on the 12th.^ One can never rely on these 

My fondest love, 
. Indu 

Delm Dun Jail, 
11th July i933 

Darling Indu, 

Rumour is a shameless thing — it has been called ‘a lying jade’ — and 

1 . Sarojini Naidu; nationalist leader and poet. 

2. Mahatma Gandlu was staying at Parnakuti, tlie residence of Premhla LadyThackersey. 

3. This was an informal conference of Congressmen, where proposals for the 
unconditional withdrawal of the Civil Disobedience Movement were rejected, but 
Mahatma Gandhi was authorised to meet the Viceroy in order to negotiate a 



must never be taken seriously. You will have to wait for me for at least 
two more 12ths. Meanwhile Mummie has gone to you and that should 
be enough. 

I am sorry to learn of the trouble you have had with your eyes. 
Of course if the eye doctor says so, you should wear glasses. The 
trouble will probably pass after a while if care is taken at an early 
stage. My eyes have never given me any trouble whatever and I have 
not had to wear glasses at any time, although I read a lot. Perhaps 
this is due to my general good health. Wash your eyes regularly with 
boric lotion. A little rose water added on makes it very refreshing m 
summer. Do you know how 1 wash my eyes every day? I use a lota 
for an eye-cup and fill it with fresh water! What I like doing is to 
have a basin full of fresh water into which I can put my face and, 
opening my eyes, roll them about in all directions. This rolling about 
from right to left and left to right and diagonally and in a circular 
way IS good exercise for the eyes. When we read we keep them in 
one position for a long time and naturally they get tired. Rolling 
them in fresh water refreshes them greatly, just as stretching a tired 
arm. But if you start rolling your eyes before other people they 
might begin to suspect your sanity! 

I am glad you visit Bapu regularly. He must be very busy just at 

Love from your loving, 


[Vile Parle] 
lull November, 1933 

Papu darling, 

This is just to wish you very many happy returns of the day. 

I wanted to send you something but nothing is available in Vile 
Parle. And we don’t go very often to Bombay. Kaka went yesterday, 
but it being a hartal day I did not like to buy anything. All I can give is 
my love. And this has always been yours and always will be. 

Often I do and say things which I ought not to. And sometimes 

you get angry. Of course it is my fault — but will you please forgive 
and forget? 



I work quite hard. But there is not much possibility of passing this 
year . . . 

Ever your loving. 


How old are you now? 




[Anaiid Bhaum] 
14th November, 1933 

Indu sweetheart, 

This morning I received your letter,' well timed to reach me on niy 
birthday. When one gets so old as I am birthdays are not quite so 
welcome as they used to be. But a birthday letter from you is always 
very welcome and your few lines made me happy. 

But why did you suddenly think of apologising for something 
that I do not know? ‘Forgive and forget’ — what am 1 to forgive and 
forget? There is seldom any question of forgiving and forgetting 
between friends, and I hope you and I are friends, though you happen 
at the same time to be a dearly loved daughter. What is far more 
important is for people to understand each other. 

My age is becoming a delicate subject, not fit for public reference. 
I was born on the 14th November, 1889 — so you can calculate it. The 
date is a hundred years after the storming of the Bastille, which took 
place in 1789 and began the French Revolution. That is something to 
help you to remember it by if you think it worth remembering. 

Why do you say that there is little possibility of your passing this 
year? Of course you wnll pass and pass well. 

Your loving, 

1 . Refers to letter d.itcd 1 1 November 1933 (No. 42). 




[ Vile Parle] 
27th [November 1933] 


I went to Bombay with the Vakils on Saturday morning and returned 
today in time for school. 

The Tagore week is in full swing. We saw their — Santiniketan 
Artists’ — exhibition on Saturday morning. There were 140 pictures 
by the Poet liimself.” Most of these were of course far above me, but 
fortunately I had read an article on them a few months ago and this 
enabled me to understand the quaint lines better than I would 
otherwise have been able to. 

On the whole I liked the pictures very much especially one by 
Nandalal Bose.^ It was a full length ‘live’ picture of a Buddhist monk. 
The face and hands were beautiful but the expression of the eyes was 
something indescribably marvellous. 

After the exhibition I had to go to a party at the Tata Palace — that’s 
where Tagore is staying — Mrs Naidu, Chhori Puphi & Raja'* were 
also there. From here we went for a long drive and walked a while in 
the Hanging Gardens. Arriving home (Auntie’s house in Bombay) 
we dressed and had food and then went to see the show by the students 
of Santiniketan — Sap Moebau. This was perfectly wonderful. It was 
full of songs and dances and the actors did not speak and I must say 
the acting was very good. It was the first thing of its kind that I had 
ever seen and I was charmed. , 

Tagore has grown much older and weaker ever since I saw him 
last in Poona. He is far from well and has come here in spite of the 
doctors orders to stay at home. 

The chief object of liis coming with his party is money. They are 
very hard up and the boarding is becoming worse and worse. We are 
try'ing to get a purse ready in Vile Parle but we have very little time at 
our disposal and so I do not know how far we will be successful. 

Totijours la tientie,^ 



The reference ii to Rabindranath Tagore, the Nobel Laureate, who was the founder 
3 Univenity at Santiniketan. 

.indal.ll Bose- Bengali artist prominently associated with Santiniketan. 

- Hiithecsing, husband of Jawaharlal’s sister Krishna. 

Ever yours. 




^nqm, Bliawan, 
1st January, 1934 

Indu sweetheart, 

Today is New Year’s Day and my thoughts travel to you and I want to 
send you all my love and good wishes. We did not see very much of 
each other during your brief stay here but it was a delight to have you 
even for a few days. I am afraid we shall not meet for three or four 
months and even when we meet then it will be perhaps for a twenty- 
minute interview! But I shall feel happy in the thought that you are 
growing up in mind and body and fitting yourself for the great work 
you will have to do in afterlife. 

Mummie sends her love. 

Love & kisses fi:om your loving, 





19th January, 1934 

Darling Indu-boy, 

We had three and a half very strenuous days in Calcutta and now we 
are at Santiniketan. We arrived here this evening and were welcomed 
by the Poet and all the students and staff who had gathered together. 
The Poet read out some lines in welcome which were very beautiful. 

We have been put up in the Poet’s own house. We have got 
delightful little rooms with fascinating furniture — ^low chairs and tables 
and little artistic knick-knacks. Art is of course the strong point of this 
place and everything has the artistic touch. 

Tomorrow we shall go over [to] Santiniketan and Sriniketan, where 
the farm is. I shall have a talk wdth the Poet and later with the students 
and staff. And at night we shall again take to the train and journey on. 
Our next halt will be Patna. We are staying there for the day to see 
Rajendra Babu and confer with him about relief work for the 
earthquake areas. There has been terrible destruction and loss of Hfe 



and large numbers of children are homeless.^ 

We felt the earthquake distinctly in Allahabad on the 15th. I was 
standing at the time in the verandah speaking to a crowd of kisans. 
Suddenly I Started wobbling and when I discovered that it was an 
earthquake I was interested and greatly amused. Nothing much 
happened in Allahabad but in Bihar it has not been a matter for 
amusement. Whole cities have been destroyed. Did you feel the 

All my love (and Mummie’s also, although she is asleep!). 

Your loving, 


Anand Bhawan, 
25th January, 1934 


It is the eve of our Independence Day^ and I am sitting down to write 
to you wondering when I shall write to you again from Anand Bhawan 
and from this library table where I have sat, surrounded by my books, 
for so many long hours, month after month. I love the company of 
books, even when I have no time to read them. They stand there, row 
after row, with the wisdom of ages locked up in them, serene and 
untroubled in a changing and distracted world, looking down silently 
on the mortals that come and go. 

I rather liked Santiniketan and so did Mummie. I think it will be 
a good thing if you spent a year or so there. You may not have comforts 
there but that is a little matter and one should get hardened a little. It 
IS a remarkably peaceful place. There is a German there who is a 
Buddhist monk. He teaches both French and German. I do not know 

t The province of Bihar was rocked by a major earthquake on 1 5 January 1 934, which 
resulted in substantial loss ofhves and destruction of property. The Congress set up 
a Relief Committee under the chairmanship of Dr Rajendra Prasad, a prominent 
nationalist leader from Bihar, to assist the people of Bihar in overcoming the after- 
effects of this earthquake. 

2 As decided at the Lahore session of the Congress in 1929, a pledge to struggle for 
complete independence was first taken by people all over India on 26 January 1930. 
Until 15 August 1947 this day was observed as Independence Day. 



how good he is at his work but he had an attractive face, as Buddhist 
monks often have. The art section is of course very good. If you go 
there I think it would be a good thing if you took up painting. Nandalal 
Bose, the man in charge of the art section, is one of the leading Indian 
painters of today, and he is a good teacher. But all this is rather 
premature. We can discuss it later when the time comes. 

One idea, however, appeals to me. I want you to get to know the 
various peoples of India and if you go to Santiniketan you will pick 
up Bengali and get to know the Bengalis a little better. You know 
some Gujarati now and perhaps a little Marathi. 

And now I must say an revoir and end this letter with my love, 
which indeed you always have. 

Your loving, 

[Telegram] Allahabad, 
12th February, 1934 


Indira Nehru, 

Ghorbunder Road, 

Vile Parle 

Am going back to my other home for a while all my love and good 
wishes cheerio. 



Presidency Jail, 
13th February, 1934 

Indu bien aimee. 

So I am back again to my other ‘home’, as I wired to you.^ It was time 
I came, for I was very tired with the various activities I indulge in and 
badly wanted a respite. My nine days in Bihar, touring the earthquake 

1 Refers to letter dated 12 February 1934 (No. 48). 


5 5 

areas, were a tremendous strain and I reached Allahabad day before 
yesterday dead tired. I shall have plenty of rest now — perhaps too 
much of it! 

I thought of you a great deal today. Today was the day of your 
examination and just before it began the news of my arrest must have 
reached you. I hope this did not worry you in the least. It should have 
acted as a fiUip! 

My trial has been fixed for day after tomorrow, the 15th. I do not 
know what will happen afterwards and whether I shall be kept in this 
jail or elsewhere. 

You will be busy during the next two months or so with your 
examinations. I am sure you will do well in them. Take them easily 
without worrying at all. And then I hope to see you, wherever I may 
be at the time. 

All my love, cara mia. 

Your loving, 


[February, 1934] 

Papu darlingest, 

I got your telegram^ just as we were setting off for our exam — we had 
to come up to Bombay for it. But I have got accustomed to these 
surprises and have learnt not to be very astonished at whatever happens. 
But I’m glad you sent the telegram, it’s much better to get the news 
that way than fi:om the papers. 

The mght before we heard of your arrest, Goshibehn had a dream. 
She saw you playing with a sweet little child who was sitting on a wall 
and suddenly a man came and arrested you. The poor child was left 
alone and it began howling. Goshibehn woke up with a start and told 
her husband that you had been arrested; he wouldn’t believe it then, 
but later they both saw it in the papers. She was so cut up that she sent 
me a basket full of lovely flowers. 

My exam finished on Saturday. I did rottenly in Arithmetic but 
made up in Algebra and Geometry. On the whole I did quite well 
and think I wiU get the form for the Matric. 

Refers to letter dated 12 February 1934 (No 48). 



We arc giving a show on 10th March. It is Tagore’s Tlic Cycle of 
Spring. The dialogue is to be in Gujcrati but the songs are in Bengali. 
A boy from Santinikctan teaches dancing to the boys. Mrs Vakil and 
three of the girls go to Menaka’s^ dancing class to learn the technique 
of Indian dancing. Mrs Vakil leaches the schoolgirls dancing. 

The Matric will take place somewhere in the middle of April, 
and I will arrive home in the end of that month. So till then, on revoir. 

With tons & tons of love and all my kisses, 

Your loving, 


Alipiir Central foil, 
ist March, i934 

Indu bien aint6c. 

So you have had your first examination and must be feeling 
tremendously relieved. But then the other one hovers in the distance 
and perhaps worries you a little. 

The line of work I have chosen for myself in life is such that 1 can 
never settle down safely into a rut. Always I have to face novel situations 
and I have frequently the sensation of appearing repeatedly at the 
examinations that life has a way of thrusting on us. They come 
suddenly and there is no course laid down which one can prepare! 
And life has become for me a long succession of tests. Sometimes I 
succeed and sometimes I am not so succe-ssful. But the curious thing 
is that the final and real judge of this success or failure is oneself 
Others, of course, pass their opinions on it, and often they praise 
when there is little to praise, and often they condemn or are indifferent 
when a real victory has been won. But in one’s heart one knows, or 
ought to know, the real measure of success or failure. 

I was interested to learn of Goshibehn’s dream. Give her my love 
and tell her to dream of better and more useful things than my arrest. 

Love & kisses from your loving, 


1 . A well-known exponent of classical Indian dance. 




Alipoie Central Jail, 
30th March, 1934 

Darling Indu-boy, 

Bari Puphd & Ranjit Pupha & the children are going to Kashmir at 
the beginning of May for six weeks and they suggest that you might 
accompany them. 

Kashmir is a place well worth visiting and as you know it is our old 
homeland and has a special claim on us. Long, long ago we left it and 
since then the whole of India has been our home. But the httle corner 
of India which is Kashmir draws us stiU both by its beauty and its old 
associations. We have not been there for seventeen years or more and 
you have not been there at all. It is worth visiting when you have the 
chance. I should have liked Mummie and you both to go there but I 
do not know if she will agree as this will mean leaving Dol Amma by 

All my love, 
Your loving, 


28th May [1934] 

Darling Papu, 

As yet we have not been out of Srinagar. Indeed we have not even 
seen anything of the place except round about our house and the 
post office. Yesterday we went to the Nishat Bagh^ and Puphi agreed 
to go only because the Vakils insisted & persuaded so. By the way, I 
forgot to mention about the Vakils. Of course I knew in Vile Parle that 
they were spending the summer vacations in Kashmir & when I 
arrived here I made enquiries about them at the post office and was 


2 . 

Elder aunt,Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit. 

A terraced garden created by the Mughal Emperor Jehangir in the seventeenth 
century near Srinagar, the capital of Kashmir. The garden is a popular picnic spot 
even today. 



told that they were in Kashmir & came every few days for their letters. 
So day before yesterday I left a letter for them at the P.O. asking them 
to come over if they had time. Well, that very morning about an hour 
and a half since I had been at the P.O, I saw them at our gate. Apparently 
they had also made enquiries about me. I went back with them to 
their houseboat & spent the rest of the day there. It’s quite a nice 

I talked with Kaka’ about Santiniketan. It appears that Soniben— 
Raja Bhai’s sister — has a cottage in Santiniketan, in which she stays 
whenever she goes there. Now that she is in Bombay it is not in use. 
Kaka suggested that as the boarding will not be a convenient place at 
all for me, specially the food, 1 might write to Soniben, asking her to 
let me use the cottage. I could take a servant from Allahabad who 
would cook for me & also do some of the other work. Of course I 
could help him. Kaka says that otherwise it is very probable that I 
should fall ill soon after my arrival. Do you tliink I should do this? 

I love this place, even the little I have seen, and I’m glad I came. 
The sweet [children] are ever so sweet but very' dirty. Puphi and I 
often make plans that years later we are coming back here and are 
going to open a ‘Scrubbing Washing Home’ for children! 

With much love and kisses, 
Ever youn, 



11th June, 1934 

Darling Papu, 

By now I have seen quite a lot of Kashmir. A few days ago we went to 
Achhabal. It is a beautiful place and Puphi tells me it was even lovelier 
when she came in 1916 — before I was born. The present luali 
[gardener] is Samat Klian’s son and he remembered you and said he 
still had a few old suits of yours which were given to him when you 
came here before going to Harrow! What a very long time ago that 
seems and yet he remembered everybody. While we [were] in the 
gardens some local musicians entertained us. Their voices were awful 

1. Jehangir Vakil. 



but I liked the Kashmiri song very much; it was something about 
flowers and was just suited to the beautiful atmosphere of the place. 
Do you remember you all camped in these gardens in 1916? Naturally 
our brief stay revived old memories and Puphi was very sad. 

In this wonderful land, no matter where you are you get a lovely 
view of the snow-covered peaks which surround it and the beautiful 
springs. I don’t think the waters of Kashmir can be compared with 
those of any other country. They have a standard of their own. All the 
gardens have fountains in them, which play every Sunday. And on this 
day those near Srinagar are crowded with people of aU descriptions, 
caste & creeds, even the poorest Kashmiris sally forth with their 

We went to see several temples which are now in ruins. They were 
built on the most marvellous sites imaginable and are stiU magnificent. 

The wood carving, papier-mache and embroidery are lovely. It is 
such a pleasure just to watch the shops. One of the leading shop- 
men — he calls himself ‘Ganemede’ — invited us to tea. The tea 
contained soda, salt, butter & some spices & was a lovely pink in 
colour. I rather hked it but Puphi felt sick. 

The other day Subhadu Didda came with her husband. We were 
talbng about the flowers & trees of Kashmir and she said that she 
liked the poplars but didn’t care for the chemrs as they were just like 
the peepals of the rest of India! This was quite a blow to me. Ever since 
I first saw the chenar, I’ve been lost in admiration. It’s a magnificent 

The cherries and strawberries are almost finished. We used to eat 
them aU day (I used to put on my shorts & chmb up the cherry tree), 
but Nikku Chacha^ says we did not do justice to them. 

I miss you very much. It’s awful to be on hohday when those you 
love aren’t with you. 

With all my love and many kisses. 
Always your loving, 

1- Kanwarlal Kathju (Nikku):-a cousin ofjawaharlal Nehru. 



Dehra Dun Jail, 
15 th June, 1934 

Indu darling, 

About Vakil’s suggestion that you might take Soniben’s cottage at 
Santiniketan and set up a separate establishment there with a cook, 
etc., I am afraid I do not agree at all. I dislike very much the idea of 
your keeping apart from the ‘common herd’ and requiring aU manner 
of special attention, just as the Prince of Wales does when he goes to 
school or college.This seems to me to savour of vulgarity and snobbery. 
It is a bad beginning to make in any place to shout out to the people 
there that they are inferior beings and you are a superior person 
requiring special and particular treatment. Do you think any self- 
respecting boy or girl would care to make friends with you under 
these circumstances? And what would the teachers & professors, who 
run the college there, feel? Would they not feel that they had been 
insulted to some extent by our having made our own arrangements 
over their heads? No, this kind of thing wdU never do. Wherever we 
go we must keep on a level with our surroundings and not imagine 
that we are better or superior. It is better not to go to a place than to 
go as a superior person. If you even desire to work among village folk 
or poor factory workers, how do you think you would live with them 
or visit them? As a society lady wdth a scented handkerchief to keep 
off the bad smells, occasionally patronising them or doling out charity 
to them? That is not the way to meet your kind or to do human 
service. This method of charity and condescension irritates me 
exceedingly and I have no use for it. 

I think I have told you that it has long been my desire that a part of 
your education — and every boy’s and girl’s education — should consist 
of real honest work in a factory or in the fields. Unfortunately this 
cannot be arranged in India under present conditions but this idea of 
mine wall give you some notion of what I think of education. If you 
went to work in a factory do you think you could do so as a superior 
person living apart and in a much better way than the others? The 
idea is absurd. The very object of going there is to learn from the 
sufferings, discomforts and misery which surrounds and wraps up 
the great majority of people; to see the drama of real life; to become 
akin to a small extent at least with the masses; to understand their 


6 I 

viewpoint; and to get to know how to work so as to raise them and 
get them out of their misery. This cannot be done by people who live 
m cotton wool but by those who can face the sun and the air and hard 
Inang. However all this does not arise at present and much will depend 
on what ideals in life you have. I cannot impose my ideals on you. If 
you want to make your life worthwhile you will have to decide for 
yourself what your life-philosophy should be. 

There is no question of any such great decision before you go to 
Santiniketan. As a matter of fact that is a delightful place and I am sure 
you will have no physical discomfort there. I think you should stay 
wherever the college authorities put you. Take the food also as it 
comes. If it does not agree with you you can say so to the matron or 
other friends there and get it changed or added to. My fear is that you 
will be too much looked after there, not too little.That can’t be helped 
because you happen to belong to a notorious fannly. But you must 
not put a barrier between yourself and the other students. 

Do you know what I had to put up with at Harrow? We never had 
a full meal at school unless we bought it for ourselves. As junior boys 
we had to wait on the seniors as fags, get their goods, clean then- 
places up, sometimes clean their boots, carry messages for them, etc., 
and be continually sworn at by them and sometimes beaten. 

So I think you had better go to Santiniketan without making any 
special arrangements. I have already written to them there and they 
will fix you up. Murmnie can accompany you when you first go. 

I am glad you are enjoying your visit to Kashmir and are growing 
fond of the place. What is a month in Kashmir? But look upon this 
month as an introduction to the place. 

My love to all your party & to you. 

Your loving, 

7th July, 1934 

Darling Papu, 

Santiniketan at last! I was never so excited as I was last night — at least 
before joining a boarding school. I had heard such a lot about this 
place, for and against, that I was longing to judge for myself Many 



people came to see Mummie and told her not to send me here, 
describing all the various disadvantages & discomforts of the place. 
But I noticed that all these people who did not Hke S. had never been 
here and had only second or third hand information. Everyone who 
had stayed here said I would love the place. And now here I am! And 
I had better give you my opinion of the place. As yet I have only seen 
the girls’ hostel & the office and have had a glimpse of the Library & 
Kala Bhavana.^ Everything is so artistic & beautiful & wild. And to 
cap it all, we have come in the best season. It is during these months 
that S. is at its loveHest. 

The only difficulty here will be the language. Bengali is a very 
sweet & nice language . . . 

We went to see the Poet just now. I rather like his funny little 
house with every room on a different level. It must be fun to go up & 
down all the time. Gurudev [Tagore] suggested that I do some 
gardening in my free time. He seems to be very fond of it and was 
complaining that so few girls take it up. 

In my next letter I will be able to tell you about the ‘real’ 
Santiniketan — what it is like under the cover of beautiful surroundings 

& artists. 


With lots of love, 

Your loving, 


16th July, 1934 

Darling Papu, 

Regular classes have begun. The History class is by far the most 
interesting and I look forward to it. You know my subjects are English, 
idindi. History, Civics & Chemistry. Chemistry seems to be out of 
place, unless one takes the science course. The Principal suggested 
Logic instead, but as you wanted me to take it up and I also like it, I 
attend the Chemistry classes. 

I have also joined the painting classes & dancing. 

I can now understand a little Bengali &c can also say a few sentences. 

1 . The College of Art at Visva-Bharati. 



But it is not enough to carry on conversation in the language. The 
older girls are not very social & won’t mix at all. So we new ones have 
formed a group of our own. We get on very well together, and so life 
is not as miserable as it would otherwise have been. 

Mrs Tagore,^ the Poet’s daughter-in-law, is the Superintendent of 
the girls’ boarding school. She comes here twice a day and is very 
kind. The matron is a Danish lady, wife of Mr Chakravarty,^ the Poet’s 
fonner secretary who is now somewhere m Europe or America. She 
has been here for eight years and is thoroughly Bengali in all her 
ways. Her litde daughter can express herself only in Bengali. But the 
lady IS very good and takes great care of us all. 

Heaps of love & many kisses. 
Always your loving, 


29th Atdgust, 1934 

Papu darling, 

I was very glad to have been able to see you before leaving Allahabad, 
even though we could not say much to each other. 

I am writing this in the waiting room at Burdwan station, as I am 
not sure of getting enough time at Santiniketan. 

You were rather irritated at my asking you about Manohar Bhai’s 
staying at Anand Bhawan and at the interview I could not explain the 
necessity of so doing. But I would like you to know that it was 
absolutely necessary. Do you know anything about what happens at 
home when you are absent? Do you know that when Mumnue was 
in a very bad condition the house was full of people, but not one of 
them even went to see her or sit a while with her, that when she was 
m agony there was no one to help her? It was only when Madan Bhai 
came that she got a little comfort and with your release everything 
was changed — people flocked fi:om all directions, came to ask about 
her; sat with her. Now that you have again gone and Madan Bhai 

1- Pratima Devi: daughter-in-law of Rabindranath Tagore. 

Amiya C. Chakravarty: member of the academic faculty at Santiniketan, secretary to 
Rabindranath Tagore, 1926-33. 



cannot come as often as before, there was some danger of Mummie 
being left to herself as previously, and so we thought of Mannu Bhai. 
But the latter is very sensitive and as several members of the family 
resent his presence, they are rude to him & have insulted him on 
several occasions, he says that although he is ready to bear everything 
for Mummie’s sake, he would like to have your consent — so that at 
least he may not be regarded as an intruder in the house. 

As soon as Mummie is strong enough she should be removed to 
any place outside Allahabad & she is sure to improve rapidly. 

But please don’t worry'; she is much better now and will soon be 

You were not looking too well yourself. But that I suppose was 
due to the strain & irregularity of sleep & meals, which you underwent 
during your brief stay outside jail’ and I hope you will take exercise 
and get better and do take care of your food, etc. 

Yours for ever, 


16th September, 1934 

Papu darling. 

Those few days we were together in Anand Bhawan were just 
wonderful and I shall never forget them. It was like a beautiful dream 
to find you with us and to be near you for some days. But it was too 
good to last and suddenly I woke to find the high walls of Naim 
separating us. We were so near and yet so far apart. And now that 1 
have come to Santiniketan we are further apart. Most of the year you 
are in your ‘other home’ and even when you are out, we are not very 
much together, yet I miss you so much. Sometimes one feels so lonely. 
It is awful when surrounded by crowds & amidst all their chattering 
and playing, their rowdiness and noise, one has the feeling of being 
alone. Yesterday while reading one of Gurudev’s novels I came across 
this hne — ‘How terribly lonely is he, who misses companionship iii 
the midst of the multitudinousness of life’ — (I am not sure whether 
these are the exact words). I liked it very much — it is so true. 

1. Jawaharlal was on parole for twelve days from 12-23 August to see his ailing wife 



Everything has been settled about my French. The lessons will 
begin from day after tomorrow. My teacher, Govinda Brahmachari, is 
a German monk. He seems to be a nice man. 

We are getting a month’s holiday for the Puja in October — 9th 
October to the 12th November. I am looking forward to it as it means 
going to Mummie. 

I get a p.c. daily from Allahabad informing me of Mummie’s 
progress. This is a great relief, and as everyone here is anxious to 
know I have to learn the content of the card by heart & repeat it to 
almost every person I come across. 

With all my love & kisses, 
Always your loving, 


Clidudra BIwwaii, 
[18] October, 1934 

Papu darling, 

Bhowali is a nice place . . . Both the cottages are neat &r mce, though 
the rooms are queerly planned. We get quite lovely flowers and a very 
beautiful view of the Bhiintal Lake Sc another smaller one — I forget 
the name. On every side there are mountains. Beliind the one just in 
front IS ‘Sattal’’ It is a beautiful place. There are seven lakes close 
together & reminds one of SMtzerland. 

I have not written anything about Mummie, as the doctor could 
give you a much more accurate report than I could manage. Since our 
arrival she is definitely more bucked up and looks brighter & more 
cheerful. I am writing this in her room, as the nurse has gone for her 
breakfast. Mummie sends you lots of love.“ 

I hear that it is probable you might be transferred to Nainital or 
Almora, and in that case you wall be allowed to see Mummie now & 
then. If you are, you will need plenty of warm clothes. Your achkatis 

A tourist spot in the hills in Tal means a lake 

Kamala Nehru’s health detenorated in the summer of 1934. She was admitted to a 
sanatorium in Bhowali. As Jawaharlal was, at the time, in prison, Indira accompanied 
her mother to Bhowali. 



are in a trunk in Mummie’s dressing room and I have left a blanket or 
two with Upadhyaya. Ask him for anything in the line of clothes that 
you may need. 

Madan Bhai & Feroze^ have made a plan of making BuF & me fat 
and make me consume enormous quantities of food-stuffs. I have 
begun taking meat again, I might mention. 

Always your loving, 

Ahnora District Jail, 
30th October) 1934 

Darhng Indu, 

I am installed here in a lordly chamber which is big enough probably 
to contain both your litde cottages. It has fifteen windows of various 
sizes, and a door, so that there is no danger of my feeling cramped or 
stuSy. Here I sit in solitary grandeur and when I feel weary of this 
expanse of emptiness I can go out into a yard close by where I can 
trot up and down. It is a decent-sized yard and there are a few faded 
flowers there — chiefly marigolds and candytufts planted by some 
predecessor of mine. The jail is situated on the ridge of a mountain 
and I can only see the sky- from here and just a bit of a distant mountain 
or the top of pine trees. This gives one a curious feeling of being high 
up on the top or roof of something, cut off from the world. The sky 
seems to be so near and to envelop us. It is a pity I can’t see the snows 
from here — the walls intervene. 

I shall look forward to seeing you here soon. 


Your loving, 

1. Feroze Gandhi; a young political worker of Allahabad, who devoted himself to 
helping Kamala Nehru in her pohtical activities. He married Inchra Nehru in 1942. 

2. Khurshedben Naoroji, grand-daughter of nationaHst leader Dadabhai Naoroji. 




2nd November, 1934 

Papu darling, 

I know you wiU feel rather irritated when I tell you that we have not 
been to Ranikhet yet. But it could not be helped — the last few days 
have not been good ones for Mumnue, her temperature began rising 
(it went up to 101.2 on the 30th & 31st) and she felt rather weak & 
low. Day before yesterday A.P.' was performed for the fifth time. As 
more air (380 c.c.) was pumped than ever before, she felt a little 
uncomfortable in the evening but the next morning showed 
improvement and since then she has been quite cheerful. We weighed 
her this morning and found that she had gained three lbs since last 
week. Her weight now is eighty lbs. 

We, that is Bui, Feroze & myself, intend doing Ranikhet & Almora 
in one trip, if possible. We could go to Ranikhet in the morning, have 
a good look at the snows and buy the jams if we can get them — I hear 
the Government Gardens have stopped making them. Then we could 
proceed to Almora, spend the night in the Dak Bungalow & interview 
you the next morning. 

We have some quite amusing jokes at the expense of Mrs 
Gutteridge — that’s the night nurse. The latest is that supari makes one 
passionate. Last night, at about nine, I was surprised to hear some 
shouting in the kitchen, as generally we are aU in bed by that time. So 
1 called Hari^ to ask what the matter was & found that the nurse was 
lecturing the cook as to the eSects supari had on one’s temper! 

Mummie sends you love — she is quite bucked up since she knows 
that she is gaining weight. 

With lots of love. 
Ever your loving, 

f Arti6dal Pneumothorax: a form of treatment in which the lung is collapsed by 
^ introducing sterile air or oil into the pleural cavity. 

Hari Lai: Jawaharlal Nehru’s personal attendant, elected to the U.P. Legislative 
Assembly in 1937. 




14th November, 1934 

Darling Papu, 

Well, here I am, back at Sanriniketan, feeling bored stiff, as the classes 
won’t begin till tomorrow and missing Mummie terribly. Of coune I 
miss you too, but though I was much nearer the jail in Bhowali 1 
could only see you once a fortnight and that for a short while, and 
with Mummie I used to spend most of my time. Since I left Bhowali 
on the 8 th there is no news of her and even though I know that she is 
well on the way to recovery, one can’t help feeling anxious. 

I am thinking of giving up the morning chhota hazri^ given here. It 
consists of puris and dal generally. And this sort of meal at six in the 
morning does not agree with me. However, I have decided to have 
my own breakfast, consisting of brown bread & butter, milk and fresh 

I would also like to have some sort of tuition in Hindi. As you 
know I have not had any grounding in Hindi and know nothing 
whatsoever about grammar and the like. I have never written a Hindi 
essay in my life and so I do not know what I’ll do when the exam 
days are approaching. 

Ever your loving, 

Almora District Jail, 
26tli November, 1934 

Indu bien aimee, 

I have had a little outing from jail and have visited Bhowali and seen 
Munmiie. I went on Friday last, spent the night there, and returned 
on Saturday morning. I was very glad to see Mummie again after 
nearly a month but I wish I had found her better than she was. She 
has not been keeping well lately. 

I am glad you have decided to have a more sensible breakfast than 
pmis and dal Paris may be excellent but at six in the morning they are 

1. Breakfast. 



not very inviting. 

Padmaja sent me a number of books for my birthday and so did 
Dr Mahmud.^ I am always sure of birthday presents from these two! 
One of the books that Padmaja sent was a beautiful one about Pavlova^ 
with scores of fine pictures. In my student days in England I had 
often seen her and I was very fond of her dancing. She was probably 
the best dancer of the Russian classical school. I wish you would 
write to Bebee — as I cannot do so from here — and tell her how happy 
1 was to get her books and especially how much I enjoyed the Pavlova 
book. I looked through its pictures again and again and, when I had 
read it, I took it to Mummie and left it with her. 

AH my love. 
Your loving, 

Almora District Jail, 
4th February, 1935 

Indu darling, 

1 have your letter.^ I am glad you had a pleasant little holiday on the 
island in the Ganges and enjoyed yourself swimming about in the 
river and wandering among the ruins of ancient temples. 

The snow was very pleasant to see and feel but it was a very 
temporary visitor and, like most good things, it left us too soon. The 
deodars and other trees laden with snowflakes were very beautiful 
and fairy-like. 

I thought so much of you and of Switzerland with the snow all 
covering my prison surroundings. The Hotel Mirabeau and you lying 
ill, and the Danish lady who sent you flowers. I sent her some flowers 
also and quite by accident I chose the Danish national colours — I did 
not even know at the time what they were.The old lady was so pleased 
at what she considered my dehcate and graceful compliment to her 

How small you were then and how you have grown since, and 

1. Dr Syed Mahmud, barrister and nationalist who held high office after 1947. 
2 Anna MaWeyevna Pavlova Russian ballerina. 

Letter not published 



what a lot has happened since then to all of us! 

The winter seems to be passing and there is already a faint smell 
of the spring in the air. In another four days it will beVasanta Panchami.' 
Last year on this day Mummie and I were in Santiniketan and the 
Chandas gave us a pretty little present for, you must know, that this is 
an important anniversary for both of us — we were married on that 

The clouds are my favourite companions here and I watch them 
daily. I fancy I see shapes of animals in them, elephants and camels 
and lions, and even little pigs. Or they resemble the porpoises that 
hop about in the sea, or fish lying side by side, almost like sardines in 
a tin. And then they would change suddenly and coalesce and look 
like a mighty ocean, and at other times like a beach. The wind rustling 
through the deodars helps the illusion, for it sounds like the tide 
coming in and the waves breaking on a distant sea-fi'ont. It is a great 
game, this watching of the clouds. Once I saw some whifis of them 
floating about and I was immediately reminded of Sir Prabhashanker 
Pattani’s^ peroxide beard. It was really a remarkable likeness and I 
was highly amused and laughed to myself for a long time. Have you 
seen this famous beard? It is worth seeing. 

Some time back, when I was at Bhowali, Mummie told me that 
you wanted to change your subjects and give up your present course. 
You were keen on giving more time to the Kala Bhavana and to 

If you are attracted to the Kala Bhavana I think it advisable for you 
to give more time to it. It is better to do some things well than many 
things indiflerendy. There is also this to be said for it, that art is the 
speciality of Santiniketan and Nandalal Bose is a fine artist and teacher. 

Languages are also desirable and languages are tricky things after a 
certain age. You will find it far easier to learn a new language now 
than say five years later. As one grows the capacity for learning languages 
weakens tremendously. The best time of course is babyhood. 

I am not at all keen on your taking any particular examinations at 
Santiniketan. I look upon all these studies of yours as preparatory to 
specialisation, probably in Europe, for some particular line of work. I 
do not yet know what your own desires are in regard to this or whether 
they are clearly formed yet. In the ordinary course you will remain at 

1. A festival marking the coming of spring. 

2. Sir Prabhashanker Dalpatram Pattani: civil servant and politician. 



Santiniketan till the summer of 1936. If possible I should like to go 
with you & Mummie then to Europe, but it is quite impossible to 
make any plans so far ahead.There are so many indeterminate factors — 
Mother’s health, Dol Amma’s condition, my own entanglements, etc. 

I hope you are keeping well. I want you not merely to keep well 
but to be aggressively fit and, as far as possible, to make yourself 
impervious to disease. What a terrible waste of energy is illness and 
how It disables us from doing useful work! Many people take various 
tomes but really the best thing, especially m youth, to build up a 
strong body is cod liver oil. Horrible stuff you will say and I entirely 
agree with you. But there is a very good substitute — ^hahbut liver oil. 
This IS as bad but the great advantage is that one has only to take two 
or three drops of this instead of the huge quantities of cod liver oil. 
Even I have started taking them regularly! I would be glad if you 
followed your father’s example in this respect at least. 

Who pays your college account? Is this done from Bombay or 
Allahabad? Mummie doesn’t know. And do you get any pocket 
money? You must not run short of pocket cash. 

With all my love, 
Your loving, 


[February 1935] 

Darling Papu, 

Your letter^ is always so welcome and when it comes after such a long 
absence, my dehght is almost immeasurable. 

Some days ago Ragini Devi, the dancer, came here with her party. 
She gave two performances. Her dancing was hardly worth looking at 
but Gopinath, her partner was superb. His expression, his movements, 
and the strength and vigour with which he danced were simply 
marvellous. Some people go so far as to say that he is even better than 
the great Uday Shankar. 

On the 6th of the month, the Governor of Bengal paid a visit to 
Gurudev and you should have seen the preparations. From the 4th 

1. Refers to letter dated 4 February 1935 (No 65). 



evening Santiniketan was crowded witla red turbans and all our letters 
were opened at the post office. On the 6th morning we were all 
(including professors) packed off to Sriniketan where fortunately for 
us there was a mela [fair] (it being the anniversary of that place). We 
were not allowed to return before evening. 

Leena^ was here for about a week. She spent most of her time in 
the Kala Bhavana talking to the students and looking at paintings — 
we have quite a big and a very good collection. Also she exhibited her 
own paintings and gave a performance of her dancing — it is the same 
style as is taught here, but she has mixed it up with some poses from 
the Garba dance. I agree it was very nice, but then she has devoted all 
her attention to that one dance for eight whole years, so what other 
result would you expect? Leena has not changed one bit since I saw 
her last on the S.S. Kalaghora on our way back from the Karachi 
Congress.^ She’s just the same sweetly smiling plump little girl wdth 
the ‘all dressed up and nowhere to go’ look. 

I do not know anytliing about my fees. I enquired at the office 
once, but did not get any clear reply — these Bengali Babus do get on 
my nerves sometimes. However I will ask again. As for pocket money 
I have more than enough of it. One doesn’t need much here except 
for subscriptions and food-stuffs. 

. With ever such a lot of love and kisses, 

From ever your loving, 

Ahnora District Jail, 
22tid February, 1935 

Darling Indu, 

I am glad you have fixed up your subjects in consultation with 
Kripalani.^ Classes are really far less important than this personal 
guidance from good professors. Indeed at Cambridge we attached 
little importance to the university lectures; far more helpful is the 
help given by college tutors, as they are called. I do not know if there 

1. Leena, Bliaran and Suhnd; members of the notable Sarabliai family of Gujarat, 
prominent in industry and culture. 

2. The annual session of the Congress was held in Karachi in March 1931. 

3. Krishna Kripalani: distinguished scholar and author who taught atVis\-a-I5harati. 



IS any such system obtaining at Santiniketan or whether the Professors 
do this job apart from professing m classes. Even if the system does 
not prevail, there is no reason why you should not seek help from 
time to time from your Professors. 

You have accepted my suggestion that I should send you books 
from time to time. I shall do so And yet when I came to think what I 
should send you, I was a little puzzled. 

To enjoy a book we must not be forced to read it as a duty. That is 
the surest way of dishking it, as well as developing a prejudice against 
all reading. Our examinations and textbooks often have this result. 
Shakespeare, Milton, Goethe, Moliere, Victor Hugo, etc., become 
terrible bores because of this association with examinations. And yet 
what wonderful stuff they have written! 

I have yet another difficulty. Youth likes one kind of book, middle 
age another kind, and old age yet a third kind. As a boy I loved Scott’s 
novels and Tennyson’s poems. I could hardly stand them now. Then I 
became passionately fond of Swinburne and SheUey; my enthusiasm 
for them has considerably abated. Must I therefore, in recommending 
books to you, think of my youtliful tastes or my present tastes? Probably 
neither would be a safe guide. What I would like to know is what 
books you read and how you like them. Do you like poetry and if so 
who are your favourite poets? Do you like history — sociology — 
current affairs — economics? Fiction — historical novels — Utopias — 
essays? And so on. If you would write to me about these matters I 
could keep in touch with your mental moods and development and 
I would then find it easier to suggest further reading. I do not want to 
thrust books on you which you do not like. 

Most of Plato’s books are very interesting and thought-provoking. 
Try one of them — say the Republic — and see how you like it. The old 
Greek plays are also fascinating. Some of them are so powerful that 
they make one shiver almost. Sophocles, Euripides, Aeschylus for 
tragedies — ^Aristophanes for delightful comedies. The plays are short 
and easy to read.There are many good English translations. And talking 
of plays — have you read Shakuntalal Not of course in Kahdas’s original 
but in translation. It is worth reading. 

Shakespeare again makes fascinating reading if one takes to him 
for pure pleasure and not for examination stunts. And his sonnets are 
extraordinarily beautiful. 

I do not know if you are keen on poetry. I see that you have been 
studying Walt Whitman and Browning — excellent persons but not 



poets after my heart. Modern poetry is very different — some good, 
some totally incomprehensible to me. The most lyrical and musical 
of modern English poets is Walter de la Mare. 

When we were together in Anand Bhawan last August you told 
me that you would read Tolstoy s War and Peace. Did you read it? It is 
supposed to be one of the greatest of novels. Another great novel by 
Tolstoy is Anna Karenina. Have you read much of Thackeray or 
Dickens? They are rather old-fashioned now but I remember how I 
used to enjoy them in the old days. You should certainly read 
Thackeray’s Vanity Fair, a story of Waterloo days. 

I have always been interested in Utopias and books peeping into 
the future. William Morris’s News from Nowhere was an early favourite 
of mine. Then there is Samuel Butler’s Erewhon and a fairly recent 
book by H.G. Wells: Men Like Gods. 

Bernard Shaw you have read a little. Read more of him. Almost 
all his plays are worth it and his prefaces to these plays are equally 

A favourite author of mine is Bertrand Russell. He writes beautiful 
English and he is eminently sensible. I think you will like him. Except 
for his philosophical and mathematical books, you can take up any of 
his works. 

Why does one read books? To instruct oneself, amuse oneself, 
train one’s mind, etc., etc. Certainly all this and much more. Ultimately 
it is to understand Hfe with its thousand facets and to learn how to live 
life. Our individual experiences are so narrow and limited, if we were 
to rely on them alone we would also remain narrow and limited. But 
books give us the experiences and thoughts of innumerable others, 
often the wisest of their generation, and lift us out of our narrow ruts. 
Gradually as we go up the mountainsides fresh vistas come into view, 
our vision extends further and further, and a sense of proportion comes 
to us. We are not overwhelmed by our petty and often transient loves 
and hates and we see them for what they are — ^petty and hardly 
noticeable ripples on the immense ocean of Hfe. For all of us it is 
worthwhile to develop this larger vision, for it enables us to see life 
whole and to live it well. But for those who cherish the thought of 
rising above the common herd of untliinking humanity and playing a 
brave part in life’s journey, this vision and sense of proportion are 
essential to keep us on the right path and steady us when storms and 
heavy winds bear down on us. 

‘Hear, hear,’ I seem to hear you say, ‘to these pious and noble 



senriments, but .why inflict them in a letter?’ I agree with you — my 
pen strayed and it is admonished. 

We shall return to a more profitable subject. I have been watching 
the kites here a good deal. There is a wide expanse of sky and quite 
fifty kites round about here. Every day they crowd right over this httle 
jail, when the prisoners are fed, in the hope of getting scraps of bread. 
What IS more interesting is to watch them glide gracefully high above 
almost without effort. Sometimes they rush past at amazing speed, 
borne by a current of air, or they go up and up, or swoop down at 
quite a tremendous pace. They seldom exert themselves, except to 
steer by their tails, and to balance themselves. The rest they leave to 
the wind. I can almost chart the air currents above me by watching 
these kites. Do you know much about ‘gliding’ — the new form of 
flying on light little aeroplanes without engines? This is based entirely 
on the knowledge and use of these air currents.There being no engine, 
there is no motive power behind the plane. It has to rely entirely on 
the wind and air currents. 

I went to Bhowali a few days ago. It is proposed to transfer Mummie 
from Chandra Bhawan to a cottage in the sanatorium itself 1 think 
the sanatorium regime will be good for Mummie and 1 hope she will 
improve rapidly there. She will not have quite so much company 
there and might feel a little dull but her treatment will benefit. The 
nurse will live with her there and if necessary one other person can 
share the nurse’s room. It is probable that quite a number of our 
family members will be coming up in summer and it will be better 
for them, as well as for Mununie, if she lived quiedy in the sanatorium 
and saw visitors at fixed hours every day. 

We are thinking of leaving our present cottages — Chandra Bhawan, 
etc. and taking two other cottages. Dol Amma when she comes up 
in April can occupy one of these cottages and Chhori Puphi (with the 
brat) the other. You and others who come can fit in eidier of these. 

I understand there is a great argument going on m Bombay as to 
what name should be given to the son and heir. Two names have been 
especially selected: Rahula and Harsha. I like both. I think Harsha is 
better in some ways; I like its meaning^ and its sound. But it is fairly 
common. Rahula has the advantage of being rather uncommon and 
’ts association (being the name of Buddha’s son) is in its favour also. I 

Harsha means joy. 



know only one Rahula and he is a very delightful and learned scholar 
who is a Buddhist monk and knows any number of out-of-the-way 
languages. So I find it a little difficult to choose. Harsha reminds me 
of some famous lines by Blake — Do you know them? 

‘I have no name: 

I am but two days old.’ 

What shall I call thee? 

‘I happy am, 

Joy is my name.’ 

Sweet joy befall thee! 

Send these lines to Chhoti Puphi and tell her that I have so far 
been unable to choose between the two names. If she and Raja have 
no marked preference, why not toss for it? 

All my love, 
Your loving, 


27 March, i935 

Darling Papu, 

About three weeks ago, Santiniketan looked perfectly lovely with all 
the spring flowers in bloom. Of course the beautiful English flowers 
you name are unknown in these parts but I think the ones we have 
here are not in any \vay less beautiful. I had never before seen or even 
heard of these Birbhum District flowers and I must say I was very 
attracted to them. I spent much time sketching & studying them. 

On the 20th we observed Basaut Utsav. Very early in the morning 
there was a sort of a Prabhat PheiiP Then at eight thirty all the girls 
who learn dancing went in a procession, doing rather a pretty step, to 
our mango garden, where we had a meeting, in which Gurudev read 
out of a play of his on spring. In the evening there was a performance 
of dancing. 

1 . Prabhat Pheri traditionally means a morning procession or festival, etc.The tradition 
was utilised for political purposes in the national movement. 



We had many guests & visitors from all parts of India. Pupha, Puphi 
and Chand arrived on the 19th and stayed for three days. I made 
arrangements for them at ‘Uttarayan’.^ They were charmed with the 
place. They left for Calcutta on the 22nd morning at four o’clock. I 
went with them as Uday Shanker was giving a performance in Calcutta 
and I was very eager to see him. I simply loved the dancing and the 
music and costumes were marvellous. But after having seen Gopinath’s 
dance, (Gopinath is Ragini Devi’s dancing partner) I was a bit 
disappointed — Gopinath is so much more graceful & his art is far 
superior to even the great Mr Shanker’s. If Gopmath were to give a 
performance or two in Europe, his fame would be greater than that of 
Uday Shanker . . . 

On the 10th March years ago just after Bapu had returned from 
Africa, he paid a visit to S [Santiniketan], Since then every year that 
day is observed as ‘Gandhi Day’. On this day no classes were held, all 
the servants in the whole Ashram were given a hoHday and the students 
& professors did all their work. Batches were made. One batch 
undertook the cleaning of the grounds, another that of buildings and 
a third that of the latrines, etc. The other batches did the cooking, 
peehng vegetables, etc. It is quite fiin. 

I think I wrote to you or to Mummie that a party had come from 
Japan to see if the type of dancing we have here would appeal to the 
Japanese pubhc or not. They saw one of our performances and liked 
It very much. After a few days they returned to Japan and now they 
have sent a gentleman to take the Tagore party over to their country. 
The party will give performances at some of the big towns in Japan 8c 
China. If all goes well they will leave sometime in August. 

There is a Madrasi Professor here. It seems he is rather keen on 
translating the Glimpses into Tamil. Have you any objection? Could 
you please let me know? 

About the Hindi translation, there is some agitation here as well as 
in other places. Of course I’m not a Hindi Pandit or rather Panditani, 
but some phrases are ridiculous — for example Tewaryji has translated 
white ant’ as safed chinti? There are many such words & phrases in 
the book. Then in the introduction or preface or whatever it is that 
Tewaryji has written, he seems to have misunderstood you in certain 

1 One of the main buildings of Visva-Bharati. 

2 The correct translation of white ant is dtmak. 



places. In one place he quotes you ham to bare bap ke bete hain} I’m not 
sure whether you ever wrote this or not, anyway it sounds awfiil in 

Some of the U.P. [United Provinces] boys are very keen on my 
reading something of Hindi Literature — specially as my knowledge 
of it is rather weak — and occasionally lend me books which are 
supposed to be the best. I don’t much like the Hindi novel but some 
poetical works are quite good. The idea just struck me to ask what 
you thought about this. 

In my room in Anand Bhawan there are a great many useless 
stupid books — aU the rubbish of two generations. What is to be done 
with them? They use up an awful lot of space and are of no earthly 
use to anyone. 

About my going to Europe I can’t say what will be best. Of course 
if I can be of any help to Mummie en route or at the sanatorium, I had 
better go. I’m not frightfully keen on going just yet, apart from the 
fact that I’d like to be with Mummie, specially during the operation.^ 
However we can decide everything when I come to Bhowali in a 
month and a half. 

The newest arrival in our family is still without a name, the chief 
objection to Harsha being that when the infant will go to an English 
school the children will call liirn Harris! 

With ever such a lot of love & kisses, 
Ever your loving, 


Almora District Jail, 
4th April, 1935 

Darhng Indu, 

So in about a month or so you wiU be leaving Santiniketan for the 
vacation and a litde later I shall see you. 

I am inclined to agree with the U.P. [United Provinces) boys at 

1 Literally it means ‘I am the son of an important father.’ Indira Nehru was obviously 
unhappy about the translation. 

2. Kamala Nehru’s condition had suddenly deteriorated and she was advised to undergo 
a chest operation. 



Santiniketan about the Hindi translation of the Glimpses. There are 
some obvious howlers in it. I noticed safed chinti myself and some 
others. I do not know what to do m the matter, especially from jail. I 
hesitate to interfere as I am no scholar of Hindi. The only tiling that 
can be done is to draw Tewary’s attention to some of the obvious 
mistakes.Very few writers in Hindi, as far as I can make out, pay real 
attention to the artistry of language, the beauty and significance of 
words and the images they convey. They get lost in high-sounding 
and vague language; there is little precision about it, and hence there 
is always a want of sincerity in the written word.They have not realised 
yet that true style comes from simplicity and sincerity. Nearly two 
years ago I pointed out to a small private gathering of Hindi writers 
in Benares that modern Hindi literature suffered from a darbari style 
and as long as this continued it could not have real beauty or a mass 
appeal. My remarks were given publicity in the Hindi press and created 
quite an uproar. I was cursed and denounced for being an impertinent 
Ignoramus. Nevertheless I hold to that opinion. All languages have 
passed through that stage and till they have shed it, they have not 
grown. Another great drawback in modern Hindi is the ignorance of 
most of its writers of world literature and new ideas. There must be 
something worthwhile at the back of what one writes. One must 
have knowledge and ideas. Just a mere spinning of words gracefully 
does not take one far. 

You ask me about your reading Hindi literature. Why, of course 
you should do so. Hindi poetry is very beautiful but I find it a little 
monotonous and it seems to deal with a few limited topics. Old Hindi 
literature is good and it is not only desirable but necessary that we 
should know it. Only then can we build on it and develop it and 
make it absorb modern ideas. My own limited knowledge of that 
hterature has been a great drawback to me and I hope you will not 
suffer thus. I could have improved that knowledge in prison — perhaps 
I shall still do so — ^if my mind was not full of the modern world with 
Its problems. I want books dealing with these problems, with new 
ideas, with history, science, sociology and economics. And ITindi hardly 
has any decent books on these subjects. 

As for novels and plays and the like modern Hindi is quite 
extraordinarily backward. I have made a great effort to read some of 
these novels & plays and almost invariably I have found them to be 
quite amazingly bad. Compare them to Tolstoy! The one Hindi writer 



who seemed to me hopeful as a novelist is Premchand^ (he translated 
the Lettas from a Father to his Daughter and a good translation it was). 

To revert to the Glimpses. So far as I know no one has undertaken 
the Tamil translation and I have no objection to your Madrasi Professor 
undertaking it. 

You have been now nearly a full year at Santiniketan and I am very 
glad you went there. You have had, on the whole, a happy time there 
and have grown physically and mentally. Perhaps you are gradually 
finding your bent. It was my wish that you should spend two years 
there and then go to Europe. But I am beginning to doubt if that will 
be possible. I can quite understand that you are not keen on leaving 
Santiniketan in the near future. Nor am I. It would be a pity for you to 
interrupt or put a stop to some of your activities there. But there is 
that possibility of your having to go off soon with Mummie and that 
possibility grows. 

It seems to me practically certain that Mummie will have to go — 
the only question is whether she is to go just before the monsoon or 
just after it is over. And I feel clearly now that you should accompany 
her. You will be of the greatest help to her during the voyage and it is 
obviously desirable that you should be near her if operations have to 
be performed. 

You have asked me about your old books in Anand Bhawan. I do 
not know if you have thought of any special use for them. If not why 
not leave them where they are? They are doing no harm. Some of the 
utterly useless ones may be weeded out. I have a sentimental 
attachment to old books which I have liked some time or other and I 
suppose you have some such feeling also. They bring back old 
memories and visions of times gone by. But much as I love old books 
I prefer that they be used to their not being used, and if you want to 
give any of your books to some place or someone who will put them 
to use, why, go ahead and give them. 

I continue to amuse myself with my gardening operations. I am 
waiting impatiently for the seedlings to grow. It is very fascinating to 
watch the little shoot come out of the soil. One notices at first just a 
slight protuberance in the soil; something is obviously pushing it up 

1. Dhanpatrai alias Munshi Premchand: Hindi writer and novelist. 

2. Letters from a Father to his Daughter. Collection of letters written by Jawaliarlal to 
Indira in the summer of 1928. The letters deal with the early history of man and 
civilisation and are primarily meant for children. 



from below. And then the tiny upstart breaks through and peeps out 
bravely at the strange wide world. It grows rapidly and is soon waving 
gracefully in the breeze. Some of the shoots resemble little swords or 
daggers cleaving through the earth. I don’t think I had ever before 
quite realised this mystery of plant growth. And two other mysteries 
that prison has made me appreciate are: the sudden breaking out of 
leaves all over a banian tree in spring, and the equally sudden 
blossoming of trees. 

I wrote to you a fortnight ago’ of the peach and plum blossoms. 
Already they are disappearing. Even the red rhododendrons are not 
so aggressively noticeable now. The tender pink leaves have turned 
green and the look of childhood & early youth is giving place to one 
of maturity. In the Bhowali sanatorium there are some perfectly 
marvellous wistaria creepers. I had often read about these creepers 
but I had no clear idea what they were. Now I know and I am not 
likely to forget. 

I have a number of ins plants in my yard here and I am greatly 
looking forward to their flowering for I like the iris flower. And then 
there is canna, that old native of India, a favourite even in the villages. 
Some of the so-called English flowers grow wild round about here. 
Do you remember the creeper — morning glory — which put up a 
brave show at 6, Cawnpore Road? It seems to be all over the place 
here, appearing even where it is not wanted. 

There are very beautiful flowers all over the plains, probably not 
unlike the Birbhum varieties you mention, but unfortunately they 
have a short life because of the heat, unless special care is taken. Here 
in the hills flowers survive and are longer-lived. 

Today is Nauroz and the new Samvat 1992 begins. And so a happy 
new year to you. I have celebrated it by putting on a new kmta which 
has been exceedingly uncomfortable as the stuff was almost unbleached 
& unwashed khadi and it irritated the skin. 

Do you know if the Bengali translation of Glimpses is getting on? 
Chanda was supposed to be doing it. The second volume of Glimpses 
is not out yet. It has taken a mighty long time. But the first volume has 
resulted in the press conferring the wholly undeserved title of 
historian’ on me. 

Did I tell you that Manishy Dey,^ who is I believe Ram Chanda’s 

1. Letter not published 

2 Manishy Dey student of Rabindranath Tagore at Santiniketan 



brother, presented a vast number of his sketches to Mummie in 
Bhowali? Some of these are good and I like them. I liked Manishy. 
Like all artists he is most unbusinesslike and emotional and he parted 
■with two months’ hard work although he is usually very hard up. 

Love from your loving, 


Ahuora District Jail, 
6th May, 1935 

Darling Indu, 

I feel like writing to you this evening and the thought strikes me that 
in aU likehhood this wiU be my last letter to you before you sail with 
Mummie. When I write again probably you will be on the high seas 
and my letter will be addressed to some place in Switzerland. How 
far you will be from me then, moving away rapidly across the Arabian 
Sea, ever further away from this litde corner of the world which I 
inhabit at present! And I wonder when and where I shall see you 
again. We create these distances in our minds, physically they are not 
really great. The world grows narrower daily and you in S'witzerland 
\vill only be four or five days’ flight from Allahabad. And as for meeting 
you, we have not seen too much of each other during these years, 
have we? We met at Bhowali last week after nearly six months. And 
yet old habit and our early ideas persist and Switzerland does seem a 
long way off and your going there makes you much more inaccessible. 
Perhaps all this is for the good, good for you and good for me. You 
will have to shift for yourself a little more and not rely on me or on 
others. Home is good but it has a tendency to narrow one and make 
one too much of a hothouse growth. 

This letter is taking the shape of a farewell episde but fortunately 
I shall see you once again to bid you farewell. 

I want you to leave India in a happy and expectant frame of iriind. 
Do not worry at all about me. I am aU right. I can manage to find a fair 
measure of peace of mind wherever I might be. The mind cannot be 
'enchained and I have developed the habit of undertaking great 
journeys mentally. I am quite sure that I am happier and freer here 
than great numbers of people who are not physically restricted. My 
peace of mind would be almost complete if I -was assured that Mummie 



and you were faring well in Europe. 

Parents are a curious phenomenon. They seem to live their lives 
again in their children. 1 have many wider interests in life which 
sometimes envelop me and make me forget much else, but still I am 
not free from that preoccupation of parenthood and I am vastly 
interested in your growth and preparation for Hfe.The fact that I cannot 
help you much personally does not lessen this preoccupation. Parents, 
again, have a tendency to mould their children after their own fashion 
and to impress them with their own ideas. To some extent I suppose 
this is inevitable, and yet the fact is that each individual stands out by 
himself or herself as a new experiment which life is working out. To 
force a growing person into a particular mould is to stultify him or 
her and to prevent growth. Bernard Shaw has called this the greatest 
of crimes. And so I have tried, with what success I cannot say, not to 
force my ideas and pattern of life on you. I want you to grow and 
develop after your own fashion and only so can you fulfil your life 
purpose. Inevitably you will carry through life certain hereditary habits 
and ideas which your home Hfe has impressed upon you in your early 
days, and I am conceited enough to think that your hereditary 
background is rather good. But the foreground must be your own 

Right education must be an all-round development of the human 
being, a harmonising of our internal conflicts and a capacity to 
cooperate with others. We are the mirror through which we see others 
and generally we shall find in others what we look for and expect. If 
we keep this mirror of our minds and hearts bright and clean the 
world and other men and women wiU have a pleasant aspect to us 
and we shall be agreeable companions and comrades to them. But if 
we cloud our mirror and make it murky and smoky how shall we see 
straight? We shall then become self-centred and selfish, oblivious of 
our own failings and always finding fault with others. And the others 
will come to the conclusion that we are highly disagreeable persons 
and pass us by. 

I am afraid I am wnting like a professor. Forgive me this while. I 
do not want to preach or profess but I do want to take you into my 
confidence. As I grow older and perhaps wiser I attach more and 
more importance to real education, and by that, you know, I do not 
mean examinations and the like. I think a proper intellectual training 
IS essential to do any job efficiently. But far more important is the 
background of this training — the habits, ideals, ideas, objectives, the 



internal harmony, the capacity for cooperation, the strength to be 
true to what one considers to be right, the absence of fear. If one 
attains this internal freedom and fearlessness it is difficult for the world, 
harsh as it is, to suppress one. One may not be happy in the narrow 
sense of the word, for those who are sensitive can seldom be crudely 
happy, but the loss is not great, for something that is worthwhile takes 
its place, a sense of inner fulfilment. 

For you these questions and problems are yet of the future. Do 
not trouble about them. It is a little foolish of me to write of them 
even and thus perhaps to burden your mind when it should be as free 
of burdens as possible. At your time of life you should grow in 
happiness, for otherwise your youth would be darkened with care 
and worry. I want you to be happy in your youth for so I renew my 
own youth and participate in your joy. 

You cannot help carrying the burden of your family with you, not 
so much in Europe but very much so in India. As it happens, your 
family has attained a great deal of prominence in the Indian world 
and this has its advantages and disadvantages for you. I am proud of 
my father and the example of his life has often inspired me and 
strengthened me.Trying to judge him not as his son but independently 
of it, I believe he was a really great man. If your grandfather’s example 
strengthens and inspires you in any way, that is your good fortune. If 
your feelings towards your father or mother also help you in that way, 
well and good. But your grandfather and father and mother, whatever 
their virtues may be, have many faihngs also, like all human beings. 
The public mind, however, especially in India, has a habit [of] idealising 
and dehumanising the persons it likes and this is apt to irritate, in 
particular those who are supposed to live up to these imaginary 
standards. The family and one’s forebears thus become a nuisance 
and a burden. I do not want you to feel this way about us! Do not 
imagine that the family or family tradition wants you to do this or that 
or to refrain from doing something else. 

You should go the way you think proper and right and if the 
thought of family tradition helps you in this, well, stick to it. Not 
otherwise. To some extent you cannot get rid of the family tradition, 
for it will pursue you and, whether you want to or not, it will give you 
a certain public position which you may have done nothing to deserve. 
That is unfortunate but you wiU have to put up with it. After all, it is 
not a bad thing to have a good family tradition. It helps us to keep 
looking up, it reminds us that we have to keep a torch burning and 



that we cannot cheapen ourselves or vulgarise ourselves. 

There is a terrible lot of vulgarity in the world and we see it 
everywhere in India. And when I talk of vulgarity I do not refer to 
the poor; they are singularly free from it for they do not try to pose 
and appear to be something other than they are. It is our middle class 
that IS often vulgar. It has no artistic standards and it has got rather lost 
between Eastern and Western culture. It is hardly to blame for it, for 
circumstances have forced this unhappy state of affairs on it. 

But enough of this professorial theorising! My pen runs away 
with me. I have little to say about your studies in Suisse. We have 
discussed them already and you will fix up with MUe Hemmerlin. If 
unhappily Mile Hemmerlin is not available, then you will be at a 
loose end. I think you had better consult Mile RoUand^ then. 

I suppose you know that Puphi and Pupha wiU occupy Anand 
Bhawan when you leave. I am very glad we have made this 
arrangement for it takes a burden off my mind and the house will be 
well looked after. The whole house wiU be at their disposal and no 
changes need be made. So far as Mummie’s and my room upstairs is 
concerned it had better be kept for me whenever I might need it — 
that won’t be for a long time yet. 

I have written more than enough & it is time I ended. My next 
letter will fly to you across the gardens and deserts and ruined cities 
of Western Asia — 

Give my love to Dol Amma & Puphi & the infant. 

Your loving, 


Aliuora Distiict Jail 
26th May, 1935 

Darling Indu, 

Your letter^ and Mummie’s sent prior to saiUng from Bombay, reached 
me today. 

Our Bombay friends — and they are so many — ^were wonderfully 

1 Mile RoUand was Romam RoUands sister. 

2 Letter not traceable. 



good to you and did everything conceivable for your comfort m 
Bombay & during the voyage. 

You must be in the Arabian Sea, as I write this, far from all land. 
On board also you will have [an] abundance of kindness. 

You have a number of big guns on board. They are pretty dull 
people as a rale and do not look quite so big from close quarters. I 
am glad you met Mrs S.K. Dutta. I gather she is taking a crowd of 
Indian girls for a European tour. She does so every year. So you must 
have plenty of agreeable company. I have never met Mrs Dutta but I 
know Dr S.K. Dutta^ well and I think he is a very fine man. He was a 
friend and admirer of Dadu’s. He felt Dadu’s death so much that he 
gave up smoking, quietly without any fuss. This was a very touching 
and graceful tribute to a friend, and it was a sacrifice for a smoker to 
give up a lifelong habit. 

I hope you are having a calm voyage and wiU escape the monsoon. 
And yet I almost wish that you — not Mummie — might have 
experience of the monsoon on the high seas. There is a magnificence 
about the sea then with its great waves tossing about the little ship 
and huge showers of spray enveloping the decks. The cloudbursts 
come with a peculiar fury and in the distance you might see what 
look like huge columns connecting the sea with the clouds above. 
Apparently the water is sucked up through these columns. 

So you are going to Trieste and Vienna or shall I say Wien as the 
Austrians call it? My mind goes back a quarter of a century or more — 
I think it was in 1909 — when I visited the place with Dadu & 
Shridhara Chacha. It was pre-war Vienna, charming and graceful, full 
of beauty and historic associations. It was the home of music of the 
gentler variety, of waltzes and comic operas and songs. Do you know 
the famous old Blue Danube waltz? Perhaps the younger generation 
have forgotten such dainty trifles in these days of the strident jazz. 
The Viennese were a peculiar and very happy mixture of the Germans 
and Italians! Somehow they had managed to get many of the good 
qualities of both, and life seemed to flow, at the top at least, with a 
charming grace. But this was long, long ago, not so much in point of 
time as of a succession of tragic events.Vienna, proud Vienna, thousand- 
year-old Vienna, was very badly hit by the Great War and ever since 
then it has gone down and gasped for breath. 

1 . Dr S K. Dutta; leader of the Christian community in India, who was a prominent 



It IS or was one of the great cities which have a soul or a 
personality — like Rome and Paris and London — not Berlin. 

One thing modern Vienna produced after the war which was 
considered unique. This was a series of very fine workers’ flats, beautiful 
palaces they were, where ordinary workers could live very cheaply. 
Many of these workers’ buildings were knocked down m last year’s 
civil war. StiU, they are very well worth a visit to see what a go-ahead 
municipality can do for the poorest of its citizens. Compare them to 
our mud hovels. If you have a chance, go to see them. 

Mummie and you \vill of course manage everything marvellously, 
as you say. You have no business to do otherwise for you have the 
family reputation to keep up! For the present the management will 
have to be done largely by you for Mummie wiU have enough to do 
to look after herself. But I do want you to take personal interest m the 
arrangements, whether it is engaging hotel rooms, reserving 
accommodation on the railway or the many other things that will be 
cropping up. Do not put too much of a burden on Madan Bhai. 

My dear, I do not worry. I am not the pining sort. If I had been 
inclined that way I would have pined away already. But instead I 
prosper and fatten in the face of difficulties and adversities and I find 
life worth living because of them. When any action or work faces me, 
I concentrate on it and try to do my best. When action is denied me I 
shut that drawer of my imnd and open some other. And so now that I 
do little else I take a vast interest in my little jail garden and my 
flowers and seedhngs and exercise such managing capacity as I possess 
on them and give them the benefit of my care and tenderness. 

I live in my little tent, for my barrack is under repairs. It is very hot 
m the middle of the day but I prefer this tent to the barrack for I have 
the starlit night above me and the tent gives me an illusion of travel. 

I have received a copy ofVolume 2 of the Glimpses 8c I gather that 
you have taken a number of copies with you. The book is formidable 
to look at and handle. You must be terrified at the prospect of reading 
It! I wish It had been split up into two volumes. 

And so au revoir again and all my love. 

Your loving, 

• rwo AI.OM1.. rwo iogi:iiii,r • 

8 8 


Conte Rosso, 
28th [May 1935] 

Darling l^ipu, 

At last I am off' and wc iiave the huge Indian Ocean between us. And 
the distance goes on increasing every minute — every second. We are 
now in tlic Red Sea — our first stop is at Suez. 

The sea is beautifully calm and is a lovely shade of navy in colour. 
It is so beautiful and peaceful — I love to watch it. Occasionally we see 
other ships; these look awfully pretty at night. 

The company on board isn't very encouraging. A good number of 
the first-class passengers are Indians, almost all of whom are suffering 
from some disease or the other and arc going to Vienna to consult the 
doctors there. Of the Europeans, very few are English. 

l^irla’ and his daughter-in-law are also on the ship. She is going 
for her health. As companion to her, Eirla has brought an Anglo- 
Indian woman frarn Delhi. She is about four and a half feet in height 
and seventy years old, hunch-backed and horrible looking and paints 
her face quite brightly. Her talk is even worse. I pity the poor Birla 
girl and wonder that Birla couldn’t find a better person in all India’s 
thirty-five crores. 

Everybody is very astonished that such a young person like 
Mummic should have a big daughter like me. People think wc are 
sisters. She docs really look so young and sweet — it is such a pity that 
she has had to spend so many dreary months in bed. But now let us 
hope those days arc over and she will begin a fresh healthy life in 
Europe and that she will he happier than she has been. 

The women here wear mostly pyj.amas and low-necked or backless 
blouses. Of course this dress is more convenient than a sari — but as 
far as the .appearance is concerned it needs a slim person to wear it. 
Some of the women with roly-poly figures look most comic. As it is 
too hot, the Captain has issued an order that it is not necessaiy^ to 
dress for dinner in the Red Sea, so in the dining hall you can see all 
sorts of clothes, varying from saris to shorts and it is very amusing to 

Every night we have either a cocktail dance or a cinema or something 

1. Gh.inshy.nni Birla: leading industrialist. 



else. I don’t go to these functions and I’m sure I don’t miss much, 
though Mummie thinks that I am tied to the cabin because of her. 

Madan Bhai has made friends with almost everybody and feels 
very bucked up and gay. Up till now he has been wearing his kurta & 
pyjama, but intends to begin European clothes in the Mediterranean. 
Madan Bhai thought Raja Bhai looked very smart in his Russian 
shirt, so he has had some made for himself. I told him he had better 
reduce his tummy before wearing them. His night suits are rather 
smart but he has not got quite used to them yet and takes off the 
pyjamas after a while (so he whispered to Mummie, the other day). 

I hope you have received a volume of the Glimpses. Rehman^ came 
to see Mummie at Allahabad a few hours before we left and sent us a 
packet of six books on the station. Jal- looked through it and simply 
would not let us bring any with us — said it would cause trouble on 
the frontiers, specially if we had to go to Germany. So 1 have brought 
only one copy for myself 

With aU my love. 
Ever your loving, 


Ahuora District Jail, 
7th June, 193 5 

Indu darling, 

I have followed the course of the Conte Rosso since it bore you away 
from Bombay, and have tried to find vicarious joy in the voyage. Did 
not the dark water of the Indian Ocean sparkle with phosphorescence 
in the night? Do you remember Djibouti? That was bare enough and 
dreary, but it had some romance, for it is the gateway to Abyssinia and 
the interior. The only thing worth seeing was sometimes the 
magnificent body of a negro, hke an ebony statue. 

And Port Said with the statue of Ferdinand de Lesseps pointing 
towards his great achievement.^ 

It was pleasant to enter the cool, blue Mediterranean with aU its 

1 An employee of the Allahabad Lata Journal Press 

2. Jal Naoroji; industrialist who was the grandson of Dadabhai Naoroji and a close 
friend of the Nehrus 
3 The Suez Canal. 


• I wo AI.ONi;. TWO TOOlTHnU • 

memories of early civilisations. The isles of Greece — ‘where burning 
Sappho loved and sung’ (Byron’s lines’ come back to me from the 
old days in Harrow when I had to learn them by heart) — and Ithaca, 
home of Ulysses. Up the Adriatic, a troubled sea with rival nations 
on either side glaring at each other. And Venice, queen of that sea, 
which once held ‘the gorgeous East in fee’,“ But you could only have 
a fleeting glimpse of her for you were bound for Trieste. 

So we travelled together, you and Mummie and I, but now I do 
not know what your programme is and so I have to stay in Almora 

It is June. ‘What a tunc, kind June, you are playing all the noon’, 
says the Harrow song. But June is not kind here and the tune it plays 
is not pleasant or soothing. There is one consolation: the monsoon is 
slowly creeping up from Colombo and the south and perhaps in 
another two or three weeks we shall emerge from this Turkish bath 
and feel cool again. 

But all this grousing about the heat seems trivial and out of place 
in view of the appalling catastrophe that has overwhelmed Quetta 
and North-West India. You must have heard of it. On the last day or 
night of May a terrific earthquake laid a fine city and numerous towns 
& villages low, and where Quetta stood is now a heap of ruins, a 
wilderness of brick and plaster and dust covering thousands of human 
bodies. These mighty disasters move us and yet, as a rule, they seem 
far removed from us. But last year’s Bihar earthquake brought them 
very near to me and that insight has made me realise their horror far 
more than I had ever done before. The Quetta earthquake is evidendy 
on a vaster scale even than the Bihar one and estimates of the dead 
alone exceed fifty thousand. 

And this reminds me that you must feel rather cut off from India 
svithout Indian newspapers. I do not know if you or Mummie made 
any arrangements for papers before you left. Anyway I am arranging 
to have some periodicals sent to Mummie. 

Apart finm Indian papers I would advise you to subscribe to the 
Manchester Guardian Weekly. This is cheap and good and wiU keep you 
in touch until important world happenings. 

Perhaps en route you looked tlirough the second volume of Glimpses. 

1 . From Don Jnaii. 

2. William Wordsworth: On the Extinction of the Venetion Republic. 



It is a fearsome object, enough to frighten the bravest. Yet I hope that 
the inside is not so bad or heavy, though it is long. I should Hke to 
know what parts of it interested you and what parts you found difficult 
to follow. My own private behef is that some of my last letters deahng 
with the world financial situation are rather good. I have tried to 
explain a rather comphcated process in as simple language as I could. 
If you read through those two volumes you will have a better 
knowledge of world history and affairs and the economic and financial 
basis of the modern world than many a well-known politician who 
holds forth eloquently on the platform. Nothing like blowing one’s 
own tmmpet! 

Among my companions in this little tent — besides you and 
Mummie — is a picture of the Anuradhapura statue of the Buddha. 
For nearly three years I have had it with me and I gaze at it after 
finding comfort in its amazing strength and calm.You gave me a number 
of the Visva-Bharati Quarterly and in this I read a sonnet on a Buddha 
statue which I rather liked. I wonder if you read it. In case you did 
not, I shall quote it here. It is by E.H. d’Alvis, who is apparently a 
Sinhalese Buddhist. 

Nay, do not mock me ivith those carven eyes: 

I too might grow, beneath that gaze of thine. 

Desireless, immortal, unerringly wise. 

Disdaining human dreams. Lo, by thy shrine 
A multitude slow-worshipping stiU goes 
Unsandalled, bearing perfumed offerings. 

While down the avenues of time stiU flows 
The splendid pageant of all timeless things. 

Nay, do not mock me with that ecstasy. 

Born of a peace abstracted from life’s pain: 

Love and its futile dream shall trouble me 
Too briefly — I shall find myself again. 

And look on thee unpassioned, mute, alone. 

An agelessness invincible in stone. ^ 

I am afraid I have no desire to be ‘desireless, immortal, unerringly 
wise and I certainly do not want to disdain human dreams. Indeed I 

1 . Source not knovra. 



do not believe that Gautama [Buddha] himself disdained them. But 
there is something extraordinarily attractive in that ‘ecstasy, born of a 
peace abstracted from life’s pain’. Of all the great men of the past, the 
Buddha attracts me more and more. 

Your loving, 


Hotel Bristol, 
10th June, 1935 

Darling Papu, 

We reached Suez at six in the morning. Madan Bhai brought Mummie 
out on deck so that she may have a look at the Canal and the shores 
of Egypt. 

At Port Said, the ship stopped about a mile away from the port. 
The ship reached there at eight p.m. It was nine before anybody was 
allowed to get off and we were told that the ladder would be kept 
down until two thirty, which meant that we could remain in town till 
that time — the boat was to leave at four the next morning. Madan 
Bhai 8c I got down. As soon as we got down from the launch, we were 
surrounded by about fifteen chattering guides. We managed to escape 
out of their circle, but having no idea whatsoever about Port Said, it 
did not take us long to get lost. However, I went into an' Indian shop 
to enquire about Cook’s office.The Sindhi gentleman who was serving 
recognised me, asked about Mummie & you and of course after that 
all was plain sailing. He accompanied us to Cooks, showed us all the 
best shops & bargained for us, so that we got the things cheap. When 
we were leaving, we were presented with three boxes ofTurkish delight 
and a lovely bunch of roses for Mummie. 

In the Mediterranean, we passed several small Grecian islands quite 
closely. They looked beautiful. At Brindisi the President of the National 
Fascist Party came with some members and a huge bouquet of lovely 
flowers to see Mums. None of the party knew English and so for 
sometime they went on talking in Italian & we replied in English, 
nobody knowing what the other was talking about. Suddenly I had a 
brainwave & I asked an old lady of the group, ‘Est-ce que Madame park 

• growing or • 


le fw«(V 7 /'r?’' Fortunately she did, in fact she was the only member of 
the parly who would really speak it well. After this we managed a bit 

At Venice we got Subhas Bose’s^ wire. We reached Trieste on the 
3rd afternoon. 

We reached Vienna the next morning at nine. The journey was 
not very comfortable as the compartment shook a lot and Mummie 
could not sleep. 

At the Vienna station we were met by Subhas Bose & some young 
Indian doctors who are studying here. They had made all the 
arrangements for Mummie. They took charge of our luggage, etc., 
and we had nothing to do except to come straight to the hotel. If they 
had not come we would have found it very difficult, not knowing 
German. Bose comes to see Mummie every day and another young 
Indian — he comes from the U.P. — a Dr Katyar is on constant 
attendance on Madan Bhai. 

Nanu [A. C. N. Nambiar]^ came here from Prague for two days on 
the 5th. I nict him for the first time and rather liked him. 

I have not seen much ofVienna yet. Most of the time I am with 
Mummie. And when I do go out it is for shopping or meals. The food 
at the hotel is terribly expensive so Madan Bhai & I generally go out 
to some restaurant. I have not done much shopping either. It is awful 
going out in a sari. Everybody turns round and stares and looks me 
up and down, till I want to just sink in the ground or run back to the 
hotel. A German lady on board had given Madan Bhai an introduction 
to a great friend of hers an Austrian lady in Wien. Madan Bhai wrote 
to her to come and see us & she said she would help me in shopping. 
She took me to a dress shop Sc I have ordered two. I am so thin that it 
is very difficult to get ready-made clothes to fit me. I take any amount 
of toodstufis & get plenty of air and enough exercise — so I really 
ought to gain weight. If 1 don’t it isn’t my fault. 

You will be surprised to hear that there is as much bargaining 
here in the big shops as well as the small ones as we have in our 
Indian bazaars. 

At the dress-makers there was a dress for 600 Schs. I said 1 could 

3 Po you spoak Frcncli? 

- JuiWm Chandra Hoso: n.ition.ilisc leader from Bengal who organised the Indian 
National Army in the Second World \%r. 

' • A journ.dist active in the freedom struggle who was a close friend of the Nchrus. 



not afford it & the saleswoman reduced the price to 550. 

Yesterday afternoon I went and had my hair cut, pardy because it 
was hot and partly because my jura became untied about ten times a 
day and it was a nuisance making it. Besides it did not go at all well 
with European clothes. 

Bose & the other Indians are terribly prejudiced against my leaving 
off the sari. They say that people only stare because they admire it so 
much. I have not told them yet that I am going to wear frocks because 
it isn’t necessary. My clothes aren’t ready yet & won’t be till we leave 
for Berlin. In Berlin I will buy more. 

With lots of love from Mummie & myself. 

Ever your loving, 
• Indu 


Hotel Adhn, 

27th June [1935] 

Darling Papu, 

You will be, perhaps, surprised to see that I am at the Adlon. And 
perhaps you will not like the explanation. I had ordered a number of 
frocks and was to try on last evening, but the woman misunderstood 
me and when she did not arrive I phoned to her. She said nothing 
was ready and she could not possibly come before Thursday evening. 
Now, we had already decided to leave Berlin on Thursday morning. 
Everything was packed and the tickets bought. I decided to stay on 
for two days. By the end of this period I will be able to get my 
clothes, do some shopping & have a look round Berlin. Of course I 
have been on most of the big streets but have not seen anything such 
as zoo, etc. And Mummie used to be quite alone & used to feel very 
lonely so I did not like to leave her. 

So I went to the station and saw Mummie & Madan Bhai off, and 
then came here and engaged a room for myself Mummie was rather 
worried that I might be nervous & frightened and would .shut myself 
in my room & do without food, etc. But as I told her, I am very lazy; 
when there is someone to do things & run about, why should I exert 
myself and so I do nothing. But when left to myself, witli nobody to 
help me, I manage ever^'thing quite well! 



Badenweiler is a small town in the Black Forest, very near the 
Swiss frontier and still nearer the French. It is said to be a beautiful 
place. For the first week Mummie will remain in the sanatorium and 
then shift to wherever Madan Bhai & I am staying. 

Nanu has arranged for a companion for Mummie. She is a German 
girl — now a Swiss subject and knows German, French and English 
perfectly. She is a great friend of Nanu’s and he says she will be the 
best person for Mummie, as she is very capable, as well as jolly. She is 
a Mrs Geissler.^ She has met many Indians and knows all about India. 

I shall spend two or three days at Badenweiler and then go to 
Mile Hemmerlin. From Bex I shaD go toVilleneuve to Mile RoUand, 
who has sent a very nice reply to my letter and sends you her best 
regards. She might come to visit Mums. 

I have seen more of Berlin than Vienna, but Vienna is by far the 
more beautiful city and I liked it. The people there are so terribly 
polite that sometimes I used to feel quite upset — but they are very 
poor. The biggest hotels and restaurants look dowdy and in the evening 
most of the people — well-to-do people — take only biscuits and coffee 
or an egg. The waiter was telling us that it is only the foreigners who 
have a decent-sized dinner and very few Austrians! Of course now 
Austria is so weak it has no future — Hitler is keen or rather mad on it. 
It will probably become part of Germany soon. 

In Berlin one really feels as if Europe were on the eve of war. 
Aeroplanes are buzzing overhead all day and night. They fly rather 
low and at first it was impossible to sleep, until one got used to the 
sound. All night they throw searchlights — I was rather fascinated by 
the queer symmetrical designs in the sky. 

2nd July 

Three days all alone in Berlin did me a world of good. I used to be 
out aU day, the result being that I could find my way about there now 
easily and I have increased my German vocabulary. 

This is a delightful little place. We are surrounded by trees except 
on the west side. From this side we get a beautiful view of two or 
three villages & towns on a slightly lower level than ours. The air is 
very refreshing and there is a lovely smell of fir. 

1- Louise Geissler;a German lady who helped Indians in Germany in the 1920s. 



Mummie is in the sanatorium and will probably stay there for 
some time. It is a nice place and the management is good. The nurses 
& the doctor are nice persons & do their utmost for the patient. The 
doctor comes to see Mummie- twice a day and himself makes her 
menu for the day, with her. And she was telling me that the food is 

Madan Bhai & I are in a pension which is half an hour’s fast walk 
from the sanatorium. BadenweUer, because of its climate, is a well- 
known & quite popular place and June, July & August is the season 
here. At this time it is quite crowded. Except for two lines of shops, aU 
the houses are pensions and two or three hotels. But it was with the 
greatest of difficulty, after knocking at every door, that we at last found 
this pension where they had room for us. 

There is a lovely swimming pool nearby and I wiU go tomorrow 
and then everyday. Madan Bhai has just bought a bathing costume 
also as he wants to reduce his tummy. Of course he doesn’t know a 
stroke of swimming. 

With lots & lots of love from Mums & me. 

Ever your loving, 


[Ahnora District Jail\ 
5th July, 1935 

Darling Indu, 

The last fortnight has been a blank one so far as any letter from you is 
concerned. I suppose you wanted to make up for your extravagance 
of the fortnight before. Mummie of course could not write because 
of her operation. I have had, however, two letters from Madan Bhai 
from Berlin. He has given me a full account of the operation. He also 
told me that you were not exactly flourishing like the green bay tree. 
You have been made to swallow bismuth meal and have been screened 
and radiographed, and your appendix has been held to blame, and a 
threat to cut it off has been held forth. 

I do not particularly fancy your hob-nobbing too closely with the 
tribe of doctors. They are excellent people and I admire them greatly 
but, on the whole, I prefer to keep at a distance from them 
professionally, and I have a feeling that medicine is usually better 



outside me than inside me. 

However, all this is an aside. You must of course follow doctors’ 
advice and if they insist on cutting you up, submit to their will. An 
operation for appendicitis is not very terrible after aU. 

The body must be looked after, that is its due and is essential for 
our proper functioning. But to make of it an invalid and to think and 
speak continually of its pains and troubles is not only a most distressing 
habit (alas, so prevalent in our country!) but is calculated to make its 
condition worse. I sometimes feel that speaking about disease and 
illness, except in the case of necessity, should be forbidden by law. If 
such a law was passed in India, I am afraid quite fifty per cent of our 
subjects for conversation and small talk would disappear and many of 
our middle-class folk would he tongue-tied. Is it not terrible how 
they discuss repeatedly and at length their painful and unsavoury 

So you are all in Badenweiler now and hkely to remain there for 
two or three months more. I do not know that Httle town but I know 
well enough that all that neighbourhood is very beautiful, perhaps 
the best part of Germany, from nature’s point of view. Very near you is 
the Black Forest, the Schwarzwald, full of beauty spots. Not far is the 
Rhineland and the banks of the Rhine must be covered with the 
vine in these summer days (or am I mistaken about the season?). You 
were with us, were you not, when we steamed up the Rhine, following 
its winding course through town and countryside, passing its great 
rocks with frowning castles seated atop of them, and legends of long 
ago clinging to them. There was the great rock where the Lorelei 
used to sit and sing and lure unhappy sailors to their destruction. And 
so we passed from Cologne to Mainz and thence to the old delightful 
city of Heidelberg. Do you not remember it, and the River Neckar 
and the professor of geology who took us reverently and proudly to 
his cabinet to show the ancient skull of the Homo Heidelbergiensis, 
that half-ape, half-man, one of the Jinks in the missing chain of early 
human development? 

Freiburg is of course your very near neighbour and I suppose 
Wiesbaden cannot be far off. Bad Ems and Hamburg, if I remember 
aright, must also be round about somewhere. To both these places 
Dadu and Dol Amma went when they first put me at Harrow. It was at 
Ems that Puphi’s (the elder one’s — there was only one then) fifth 
birthday was celebrated, and Dadu ^ve a party to all the municipal 
school children of the place and the mayor or burgomaster, or whatever 



he is called, attended in state. Old memories come back to me and I 
write them down, thinking that they might interest you. 

You have been now just over a month in Europe and you have 
seen something — not much, 1 am afraid — of two of its great capitals. 
How did you like them, Vienna and Berlin? Berlin, with all its pomp 
and circumstance, is not very impressive. Munich, I think, is a more 
fascinating German town, and the Germans themselves have a saying: 
sec Munich and die. Apart from its old fascination it has got a new 
and a wonderful appeal — the great Deutsches Museum, built since 
the war. This is really something magnificent and worth going all the 
way from India to see. 

It is seventeen days since Mummie’s operation and I hope that 
she can walk about a little now. I am very keen on her leaving her bed 
and getting out of the perpetual invalid atmosphere which bed always 
carries with it. 

Should you be staying on in Badenweiler for a considerable time 
why not utilise your time there to pick up some German and improve 
your French? If you could get to know some German family, make 
fnends with a Fraulein, you could not only have some lessons from 
them but mix with them and listen to their talk. Indeed such friendship 
would be good in many ways. You could have companions of your 
age to go about with and the way to know a country is to know its 
people and try to understand them. It is an English habit to live in a 
stuck-up stand-offish way in foreign countries. It is not a good habit. 
We should indeed go out of our way to make friends. That is a courtesy 
we owe to the country we are in and it pays well, for it brings us 
intimate glimpses and friendship, and it helps us to grow out of our 
narrow national selves. 

To come to a less interesting topic — myself. 

What do I do? Perhaps you have heard the story of the old villager 
who when asked how he spent his time after he had been pensioned 
off, made answer: ‘Well, Miss, sometimes I sits and thinks, and 
sometimes I just sits.’ I have not quite got to the stage of just sitting, 
even though I am in prison, but a subtle change has come over me 
during the past few months. It has not come uninvited. I asked for it. 
The change consists of a diversion of interest from purely intellectual 
pursuits to manual ones. I had become too much of a bookworm, 
reading, reading and writing for most of my time. Outside, strenuous 
activity and irioving about prevented me from becoming too lop- 
sided. In prison, that activity being denied, my interests became too 



intellectual. Of course I had relief in the past by spinning and weaving, 
etc. I liked them but they seemed to be extraneous activities, my 
main function being reading and writing, and as you know to your 
cost I produced 1500 printed pages during my last term! That is not 
so now. I have read relatively Httle and at the slightest pretext I put 
aside my book. Living in the tent has helped in the process and the 
cloudy weather has also lured me out. Now I can stroll up and down 
my yard, usually armed with a khurpi,^ messing about my flowers. 

1 have always been a bit of a student, trying to learn to understand, 
but largely this effort was intellectual. There was also the emotional 
element in it, the learning from crowds, the appreciation of mass 
psychology. Latterly I have felt drawn more and more towards nature — 
to plants and animals. Maybe it is a relief and an escape firom human 
folly, human cowardice and human knavery! I feel more in tune with 

I feel that this is a hopeful sign in me. I am growing still, getting 
more educated, more in harmony with hfe. Three years ago died a 
very great man, though he is not very well known. He was a Scot, 
Patrick Geddes, and he was a genius in many fields. He even came to 
Allahabad once and drew up a scheme for its town planning! He was 
a great educator and instead of the three Rs he used to lay stress on 
the three Hs — heart, hand, head. He wanted children to grow up 
with a first-hand knowledge of the worlds of nature and of man and 
to develop an unspoiled appreciation of fife, the beauty of nature, of 
the human mind, etc.The first approach for the child thus came through 
the heart, through the emotions — the affection of parents, the 
enjoyment of firesh air, sunshine, etc. Then came the hand as the child 
grew older. Petty manual tasks in the garden or some craft. Then at 
last came the head and, curiously, the intellectual development of the 
child who had gone through the course of heart and hand was very 
rapid — far quicker than the child who began with intellectual teaching 
only. More important still, such children developed what is called a 
well-integrated personality, something in harmony with life and nature, 
the very reverse of the quarrelsome, dissatisfied, ever-complaining 
type that we see so often today. 

I sometimes console myself that I am in my own topsy-turvy way 
following Geddes’s course and so trying to develop that integrated 

1. Trowel. 



personality. Having become somewhat of a highbrow, I have tried to 
lay more stress on the hands. To a large extent Tolstoy and Ruskin 
advocated manual labour for this purpose. And the real psychological 
basis of Bapu’s charkha is also this. 

Are you not tired of me, Indu-boy, writing aU this stuff to you and 
wearying you even at this great distance with my wordy chatter? 

Your loving, 


Ham Waldecki 
18th July [1935] 

Darling Papu, 

Your letter dated 5th July^ arrived last night . . . 

Yes, we have a swimming bath here. The spring which supplies 
the water comes from 700 metres below the surface of the earth. The 
temperature of the water is 27°C. It is said to be very healthy to bathe 
in this water. 

A few yards away is a bathing place in ruins, where it is said the 
Romans used to bathe 2000 years ago. 

There are lovely walks here in the woods. And die smell of the 
pines is delicious. At first I used to go alone, but now Eva, the 
companion’s sister, who has come here to spend her holidays, 
accompanies me. We go morning & evening and talk only in German. 

I have made marvellous progress in German. Everybody is quite 

I have changed my pension. I now share a double bedroom with 
Mrs Geissler in Pension Ehrhardt, which is halfway between the 
sanatorium and the place wdiere Madan Bhai stays (and where I stayed 
the first three days). Mrs G’s sister is also with us. So I do not need a 
German family. There is a lot of propaganda against Indians in the 
papers because of tlie foreign policy to be friends widi England. Hence 

1. Refers to letter dated 5 July 1935 (No. 76). 



ic is not very agreeable sometimes. 

There is a beautiful garden here called the Kurpark. The baths are 
all in this. And there is a band every day. I have made friends with 
some of the litde birds and take some bread for them every day, though 
one of them was very' angry with me today because I would not let it 
eat a grasshopper which was wounded & could not hop away. 

1 hear it has been decided to transfer you to Allahabad. Please let 
us know when, so that I can write direct there. 

Muniinie sends her love, she is not yet allowed to write, but she 
sits out for a while on the balcony every day. Oh, I forgot to tell you. 
Mums’ name on the register here & also in Berlin was written as 
Princezzin' jsic] Nehru, in spite of our protests! 

How are you keeping? Puphi wrote you did not look well at all. 

With lots of love. 
Always your lowng, 


Ahnora District Jail, 
29th July, 1935 

Indu dear, 

I sit down to write to you and cover sheet after sheet of thin airmail 
paper, trying somehow to bridge the many thousand miles that separate 
us. 1 hope that my letters will carry \wth them, somewhere hidden 
away between the lines, a bit of me to you, and that if you care to look 
for it, you will find it; just as I seek for you in your letters, behind and 
between the lines that you have written. What indeed are letters? Not 
surely just budgets of news, although they contain news. Not a record 
of illness and birth & marriage and death & humdrum domestic 
happenings, such as are most of the letters that people write. They are 
something far more; they are, or ought to be, bits of the personality of 
the wTiter, quivering shadows of the real self. They are also, or they at 
least endeavour to represent and to mirror, something of the person^ty 
of the person written to, for the writer is full of the person he is 
writing to. Thus a real letter is a strange and revealing amalgam of the 
^ fhe one who writes and the one who receives. If it is such a real 

t- Correct spelling is Prinzessin (means Princess). 



letter it has considerable value for both the persons concerned. 

I have been led to this musing on letters because I have learnt that 
my letters have not been reaching you and I have been pained at tliis 
unexpected and unwelcome news. Cables from Madan Bhai have 
informed me of it and I am at a loss to know why this has happened. 
I have been pained at the thought of Mummie and you expecting my 
letters, waiting day after day for them, and waiting in vain. I was pained 
also at the thought that my letters, which I had sent out with so many 
messages and loving thoughts, to fly over two continents to you, should 
have gone astray. I felt almost as if I had been physically hurt. And 
then it was disheartening. To have to write once a fortnight only is a 
poor enough bond, but if even that snaps? 

To get on to your last letter.^ Yes I was a htde surprised to see the 
superscription — Hotel Adlon. I had expected you to be in 
Badenweiler. Also I was a litde surprised at the choice of hotel, for 
the Adlon is supposed to be the most expensive hotel in Berlin and 
rather a flashy kind of place, frequented by the newly-rich, intent on 
display. It is not considered a select place. Probably the Kaiserhof is 
better in that respect. But these are very petty considerations . . . 
Personally I think it is always safer in a new city to go to a good well- 
known hotel even though it may be expensive. If necessary feed 
outside more cheaply. So I am glad you went to the Adlon rather than 
to a cheaper hotel. I am also glad you stayed on in Berlin for a few 
days after Mummie left and had a look round. I want you to shift for 
yourself as much as possible. 

I am not very happy about your health. Madan Bhai wrote to me 
that the doctors were of opinion that there was nothing fundamentally 
vnong with you. So far so good; but it is not good enough. You must 
not feel weak and headachey and have frequent pains. This has to be 
seen to or otherwise both your physical and intellectual development 
win be interfered with. My own attitude to ill health is I am afraid 
rather intolerant and aggressive — ^it is, as 1 wrote to you in a previous 
letter (which you have not got!) — the very opposite of the usual 
valetudinarian attitude prevalent in India. I dislike it, consider it almost 
indecent and do not feel much sympathy for the person who willingly 
indulges in it. Perhaps this is due to my own youthful record. After I 
had got rid of certain infantile ailments I developed a healthy body 

1. Refers to letter dated 27 June 1935 (No. 75). 



and during all the long years I was at Harrow, Cambridge & in London 
I never spent a day in bed owing to illness. So I grew up rather 
conceited about my bodily fitness and with the belief that anybody 
who wanted to be fit could certainly keep so. 

Now I do not want you to worrry — or grow morbid about your 
little physical troubles. These growing pains do not mean much. But 
at the same time they should be attended to so that they may not 
weaken your constitution. 

Regarding your future studies, the question of your health has to 
be borne in mind, and this was one of the reasons why I wanted you 
to stick to Suisse. 

Another reason why I prefer Suisse is because of Mile 
Hemmerhn ... It will be better if you are within easy distance of her 
and can consult her firom time to time. 

In Suisse there are three possible universities — Geneva, Lausanne 
and Zurich, the two former more French, Zurich more German. In 
the matter I think you had best follow MUe Hemmerhn ’s advice. It is 
always possible on the Continent to change universities — it is a good 

As for the course you should take, I should not bother very much 
just at present. Remember that students on the Continent — ^both at 
school and university — have to work far harder than students in 
England. I do not want you to join this treadmill too soon. Take your 
time and fit yourself for it before you do so. 

I am sending you through Mummie a fitde book — -J.F. Horrabin’s^ 
Atlas of European History. This is an excellent collection of historical 
maps and it wiU help you with the Glimpses. If Horrabin would bring 
out similar atlases for Asia & America the whole of Glimpses would be 

I have asked Upadhyaya to send you lists of corrections in Vols. 1 
and 2 of Glimpses — there are crowds of errors and some of these are 
extraordinary and misleading. When you get them it would be 
worthwhile for you to make the corrections in the body of the book. 

It was the full moon two or three nights back and the magic of its 
radiance drew me out of my little tent (for I am still encamped). 

With the full moon passed the month ofAsadlia^ and SravancP began. 

1 James Francis Horrabm: English journalist and illustrator who created an Atlas senes. 

2 Fourth month of the Indian Calendar. 

3. Fifth month of the Indian Calendar. 



the typical month of the rainy season. With it also ended my 
seventeenth month in prison tliis time! 

Your loving, 


[La Pelouse] 

1st August [1935] 

Darling Papu, 

I arrived here last night. 

At Bex, Mile Hemmerlin came to the station, she introduced me 
to a French lady who had also been at the Ecole Nouvelle, though a 
few [years] before my time. All the old memories came crowding to 
my mind and I was quite excited as I remembered the cafe where I 
had so often sat with you & Mummie, as well as with the 
schoolchildren, and the roads, the garden. I remembered the old house 
perfectly — every room and what we did there. Mile Hemmerlin is 
still the same sweet and gentle lady whom we used to love so much. 
We talked about the old days (one would think I was at least sixty) 
and you & Bapu. She sends you her best regards. 

4th August 

About a week or so ago Mummie received a letter from a German 
countess, saying that she was thinking of opening a home for Indian 
convalescents in Berlin or somewhere else in Germany under the 
patronage of Mrs Goering^ and would Mummie give her name from 
the Indian side? Of course we wrote a very polite letter refusing. 

I had advised Mummie to get a new companion (Mrs Geissler 
had to go away as she had work) as Madan Bhai was busy with his 
reducing stunts and she used to be quite alone almost aU day long. 
Mrs Geissler wrote to a young girl who was working but would be 
free by 4th August, to stop at Badenweiler for a few days, as it was on 
her way home. Mummie writes that she did not like her and that she 
was not a patch on Mrs G., so she sent her away. But fortunately Dr 

1. Emmy Goering, nee Sonnemann: wife of the Nazi leader, Hermann Goering. 



StefFan has given the sanatorium sister who is very good and is fond 
of Mummie, to work for her. So everything is all right now . . . 

I am so glad your missing letters have come. It was so irritating to 
think that your short messages of love, (for though they be eight or 
nine pages, to me they are always short, for they are read so soon and 
then again to wait for the next) the only bonds between us, should be 
lymg in some dead letter office. 

13th August 

I arrived here on the 11th. The journey was not as beautiful as I had 
expected, but the view firom my pension window is perfectly glorious. 
The lake looks charming in every weather. 

I could not go to visit MUe RoUand, as somebody in her house 
had mumps which is very infectious. But I shall go sometime later. 
Remain RoUand is at present in Moscow, he is expected back in 
September. I hear he has married his secretary, who was a Russian 
countess & ran away to Suisse during the Revolution, but is now a 
confirmed Communist and under her influence so is he. 

With lots of love from Mummie & ever your loving, 


Ahnora District Jail 
16th August, 1935 

Darhng Indu, 

There has been no letter from you for nearly three weeks now. 
Yesterday I had a brief note from Madan Bhai, giving me some 
information about Mummie. 

It IS sad that Mummie has not been making good progress lately. 
These ups and downs are inevitable but nevertheless they annoy and 
1 can quite understand Mummie feeh'ng rather fed up occasionaUy. 
But she must not lose heart or aUow herself to feel depressed. What a 
long time it is since she was confined to bed! Just a year ago I was 
with her in Anand Bhawan for eleven short days. That brief period 
together was ended aU too suddenly and ever since we have continued 
in our respective prisons, and hers is far the narrower and worse one. 
When you were at Bhowali you will remember that I mentioned 



the possibility of your going to Oxford sometime or other. As between 
Oxford & Cambridge I would sHghtly prefer the former for you. I 
think it has a better Economics school. There is also a well-known 
place for Economics in London — the London School of Economics. 
There again, I would prefer the life of Oxford to London and I am 
sure so would you. 

I had all this background to my thought when I told you not to 
bother about appearing or even preparing specially for the entrance 
examination of a Swiss university. 

What is to follow? There are so many uncertainties in our life that 
I am unable to say definitely. But we can & should be prepared for 
various contingencies. One of these is the possibility of your joining 
an Oxford college. Probably this will involve also your having to pass 
some kind of an entrance examination, though this is likely to be 
easier than the Zurich one, even apart firom the question of language. 
Another fact to be remembered is that Oxford colleges do not take 
an unlimited number of persons. One has therefore to make sure 
some time ahead. There may be other difficulties, especially for Indians. 
I think you might write to Bharati Sarabhai and find out firom her 
what is supposed to be done. She can enquire firom her own college 
people — Somerville College. 

Having dealt -with the important subject of your education, I must 
now come back to my usual topic — jail gossip. What am I to do? The 
range of my subjects is limited here and so I seek to interest you in 
my birds & flowers. Morning and evening a crowd of birds — they are 
mostly mynas & sparrows — sit in front of my litde tent waiting for 
their food. If there is delay in supplying it, they make their presence 
and their impatience obvious enough by their noises. I share my 
morning dallia with them and breadcrumbs of course. Then there are 
swallows and bulbuls and other birds that I do not know. 

I am afraid my companions here are not exactly noted for bird- 
lore. Some time back I wanted to find out the name of a strange bird. 
I asked a warder — for warders are my constant companions — ^if he 
could recognise birds and knew their names. Well,’ he replied after 
some hesitation, “kauon ko ham pahchante hain'l^ 

There was a swift tragedy two days ago. I was standing some distance 
away from my tent, looking away. Suddenly there was a noise in finnt 

1. We recognise the crows. 



of the tent. There was a whirr and a squeak — and that was the end of 
the story. A hawk had swooped down and seized & carried away a 
bird. It was done so swiftly that I could not even see what kind of 
bird it had got or do anything else in the matter. The story had ended, 
but the aftermath continued for long, for the other birds sat in rows 
on the barrack roofi & walls, terrified at tliis strange fate and croaking 
out their warning cry. 

I saw another sight — this was last year in Dehra Jail — which 
surprised me. A crow came down into my yard and carried off with 
ease quite a decent sized frog. It was all done very smartly as if the old 
villain had practised at the job. He came down, tipped the frog over 
on his back so as to prevent him hopping away, and then seized him 
by a leg and flew away. 

A few days ago I had a curious experience. I v/as looking at my 
zinnias early in the morning when I was taken aback and I almost 
gasped at a sight of extraordinary beauty. It was just a spider’s web 
with the dew drops hanging on to it but in that half-Hght of the dawn 
It seemed like a wonderful pearl necklace, shimmering and full of 
lustre. Why do I compare it with a pearl necklace? It vras far more 

To come back to earthy topics. I hope you are keeping physically 
fit now. You swim & walk and both of these exercises are excellent. I 
imagine that swimming is probably the best all-round exercise; it 
tones up every part of the body. Apart from these open-air exercises, 
I wish you would keep up some of the asans, especially the shirshasana 
and the sarvaiigasana.^ I am a great believer in both of these. They are 
good for the back, the shoulders, the head & the eyes. 

Love from your loving, 

When you write to me ask Mummie to dictate to you a line or two to 
me — write them down in Hindi — this will cheer me & it might also 
cheer her. 

1. Refers to Yogic exercises. 


• TWO A1.0NL. TWO TOC;i;THi;K • 


Letter No. 8 
Almora District Jail 
30th August, 1935 

Darling Indu, 

The papers arc full of war rumours. For the time being there is talk of 
an Italo-Abyssinian war and it is possible that the next two or three 
weeks might see the beginning of this. I don’t think there is any 
immediate danger of war in Europe. But one can never be certain . . . 
This will inevitably affect almost all activities there and foreigners, 
whether they arc students or not, cannot escape this. Mummie’s 
treatment may be affected, so also your educational course. The plan 
you may carefully lay down now may have to be altered materially 
then. So you must all keep wide-awake and not be caught in any of 
the little difficulties that crop up during times of crisis. 

You were quite right in not getting Mummie involved in the 
proposed home for Indian convalescents in Berlin. It is best to keep 
at a safe distance from all public activities in Germany. Mummie is 
there for her treatment and for nothing else. Mrs Goering, as of course 
you know, is one of the big women of the Third Reich. 

Some days back I had a card from Ratan & Rajan^ from somewhere 
in the Arctic Circle. The picture card of a semi-ffozen sea brought a 
sense of nostalgia to me. It reminded me of my own visit to Norway 
just twenty-five years ago. I had just taken my degree at Cambridge 
and I went -with a friend on a modest trip to the Norwegian fiords. I 
did not go nearly as far as Ratan & Rajan but I loved those §ords and 
the blue ice coming right down to the sea. And though I did not see 
the midnight sun, I saw it set at eleven thirty p.m. and pop out again 
an hour or so later. I made up my mind to return soon and do the 
grand trip to Spitzbergen, that is as far as ordinary travellers can go. 
But this ambition and desire of my heart, like so many otliers, remains 
unfulfilled. How I would love to go there with Munmiie & you and 
sail those silent and unrufiled waters of the j^ords, winding in and out 
between the high mountains, every turn bringing a new surprise. 

1 . Ratan Kumar Nehru: a nephew ofjawaharlal Nehru. A member of the Indian Civil 
Service, he rose to a senior position in independent India’s foreign serv'ice. Rajan is his 



I hope you gave my love to Mont Blanc and the Dents du Midi, & 
Lac Leman & our many friends in that part of the world. 

Your loving, 


La Pelouse, 

24th November, i935 

Darling Papu* and Mummie, 

Papu, I have given your letter to Mile H. and have unpacked and 
arranged my things — (people here had never seen anybody with so 
many boxes). But nothing has been decided yet about my studies. 

I share a room with a girl from Oxford — we had to solemnly 
promise not to speak in English. 

I expect I shall be a bit of a misfit here — for the girls are younger 
than I am (except one, who is nineteen & with whom I have not yet 
talked — she is a Swede) and the teachers are older. But this is my first 
day and a Sunday so one can’t really say what it will be like later & 
when I have glued myself to Latin & German. 

An occasional letter or postcard to me will not require much brain 
work so Papu will you please write sometimes? Besides I shall want 
news about Mummie — I hope she is srmhng and chasing away the 
pains and behaving generally like a litde lioness. 

With lots of love to both of you. 
Ever your loving, 

L Since Kamala Nehru’s health deteriorated in the autumn of 1935,Jawaharlal was 
released from prison and joined his wife at Badenweiler. Indira was then sent to her 
former school in Be.x 


I 10 


[La Pelouse] 

24th November, 1935 

Darling Mumniie and Papu, 

My timetable has been made up. I think the routine is going to be 
terrible. I don’t mind the getting up and going to sleep parts — ^but 
there is only half an hour for letters on Thursday and some time on 
Sundays. Hours will be spent in the singing and drawing classes. At 
present I’m not interested in them and shall probably feel miserable. 
‘Couture’/ whatever it is, also takes up time. When one leaves school 
one expects to have done with this sort of thing and compulsory 
walks, etc. Even if you like going it feels so awful to be told you have 
to go. I don’t know what I’m going to do. 

How has Mummie been keeping? Give her all my love. 

Your loving, 


27th November, 1935 

Darling Indu, 

I can quite understand your feeling about the timetable. School 
timetables are apt to irritate as one grows up and especially when one 
has special work to do. Still, they have their uses and when one lives 
in any establishment a disciplined life in harmony with the other 
residents is helpful and desirable. Otherwise one becomes an odd 
number, not fitting in with the others. This does not produce much 
peace of mind. The real difficulty is that you are educationally and 
physically in a transition stage — between school and university. You 
are just beyond school and not quite of the university standard. 
Meanwhile I think it would be a good thing if you tried to fit in with 
the routine of La Pelouse in so far as you can do so conveniendy. 

Today I had a visit firom Raja Rao,^ a young South Indian who 

1 . Sewing or needlework. 

2. Raja Rao* writer and novelist. 



lives near Paris and has married a French girl. He came alone from 
Mulhouse across the Rhine where he is spending some days. I hked 

If you want any more books for your course you will let me know. 

Your loving, 


3rd/4th December, 1935 


I have not written to you for some days. Indeed I have not written to 
anybody. I have been working very hard. A great deal of my time has 
been spent with Mummie who has not been well at all and as Madan 
Bhai also is not here I have to spend practically the whole day with 
her. Yesterday I did not even come back for lunch. Today I went back 
after a hurried dinner and returned at nine thirty. The aspiration^ 
took place this evening. I hope she will be better tomorrow. Her 
temperature has been keeping up and she has had several sleepless 

The rest of my time has been given, almost every minute of it till 
late at night, to revising my manuscript of In & Out^ This has become 
a terrible job. I have got through over half of it and I hope to finish it 
in another week. 

Frau Ehrhardt^ gave me quite a lecture two days ago. She told me 
that I was not eating enough or sleeping enough and was developing 
nerves as a result of over-work. She said she had observed that I shook 
my head unconsciously during meals! 

On Sunday I went to Mulhouse or Mulhausen. It was the very 
worst day I could have chosen. It rained hard continuously and the 

1. The withdrawal of fluids firom the pleural cavity by means of suction This treatment 
is given in pulmonary ailments. 

2. In and Out of Prison: this was the title which Jawaharlal initially gave to his memoirs 
when he wrote them in prison firom June 1934 to February 1935. These memoirs 
were later published as An Autobiooraphy (John Lane, The Bodley Head Ltd, London, 

3 The landlady 



wind blew as if it wanted to blow us off. When I reached there I 
found that my host Dr Dumesnil had developed influenza. Still I was 
glad I went and I saw a very interesting municipal school for poor and 
weak children. 

Munmiic wants me to remind you to send some present to the 
girl in Paris who frequently sends you gifts. 

Love from, 
Your loving, 


La Pelouse, 

5th December, 1935 

Darling Mums & Papu, 

You must be liaving rather a terrible time with In & Out. 1 hope it’s 
nearly finished — you simply must have more rest. 

On the 3rd morning at six forty-five, when Mile switched on the 
light, everybody was fi-ightfully sleepy and angry — ^but two little words 
had the effect of magic that no amount of scolding could ever have — 
il ncige ^ — Hoop la! Out we jumped and there was a rush for the balcony. 
Since then it has hardly ceased. We have had two days of lugeing and 
skiing — isn’t it lovely? I’m still rather clumsy on my skis and tumble 
almost every time — but I suppose it will be all right in a few days. 

The other day Mile H. took me into a room and told me to write 
to you — about Chand & Tara’s coming here. She said that she had no 
idea how much Puphi could afford and if Puphi thought her fees too 
high, she would willingly charge less. 

With all my love to you both, 
Your loving, 

1. It’s snowing. 




21st December [193S\ 


1 do not know when you are arriving. 

Mummie’s condition took a turn for the worse this morning. It is 
nther serious. So you must be brave. Come up to Waldeck. 

Your loving, 

There is no immediate danger. A specialist is coming from 


13th Janmry, 1936 

Indu darling, 

Munimie had an aspiration this afternoon and for the first time oil 
\\as put in. The aspiration itself was a success, though for some time 
afterwards Mummie had great pain. The next two days will show 
what the immediate reactions are. 

Madan Bhai saw a sanatorium near Lausanne and one in Leysin. 
He preferred the Lausanne one. I am in a fix what to do. I do not 
think that from the point of view of treatment a change makes much 
difTercnce. In fact there are certain advantages in carrying on here, 
but the fact that Mummie herself wants to go elsewhere is very 
important and therefore I think that she ought to be removed. I should 
like to take her away before I go to India. Probably I shall now sail 
about the 23rd February or thereabouts. I shall go to London in the 
last week of January (the date is stiU uncertain) and return early in 
February. Till then Mummie wall anyhow remain here. The change 
over might take place after my return from London. Meanwhile we 
shall watch the results of the oil injection. 

Your lovdng, 




15tli January, 1936 

Indu dear, 

Yesterday morning I wrotc^ to you that Mummie was looking better. 
The aspiration with oil had been a success. In the afternoon she had 
a bad time with a cough, trying to bring out a lot of slimy stuS" which 
was troubling her. This seems to have been due to weakness of the 
heart which was not functioning properly. The attack did not seem to 
involve immediate danger but it was very exhausting indeed as it lasted 
for three or four hours. The night was a restless one with little sleep. 
It was not considered desirable to give her a strong sleeping draught 
as this has a numbing effect on the heart. The temperature also went 
up high during the night. Early in the morning — about four — she 
fell sound asleep and she still sleeps as I write at ten thirty. 

Love from Mummie and, 
Your loving, 


17th Jamtar}>, 1936 


Mummie had a fairly good day today. She looked brighter. I am 
continuing my reading out to her. We have just finished an Oppenheim" 

I had a talk with [Dr] Steffan today about our shifting to 
Switzerland. To my surprise he agreed. So now we intend moving as 
soon as I return from London. That will be at the end of the first 
week of February. We do not yet know where we shall go but I imagine 
it will be near Lausanne. 

Your loving, 

1. Refers to lettef,dated 13 January 1936 (No. 88). 

2. Edward Phillips Oppenheim: English novelist. 




22nd January, 1936 


Mummie kept going well today. Last night also was a restful one. She 
is eating well. We are now busy making arrangements for the removal 
to Lausanne. It is a complicated affair and requires a lot of staff work. 

I have been busy all day with the packing. Most of my books have 
gone into one of the famous crocodile cases of Madan Bhai. I thought 
this would be strong enough for this weight. 

Provisionally we have fixed the 30th January for the removal. I 
think it would be a good thing if you could pay Mummie a brief visit 
soon after her arrival at Lausanne. February 2nd is a Sunday and you 
might come in the morning and return in the evening to Bex. 

Now that we are going to be in Lausanne I hope I shall have the 
chance of seeing a little more of you before I return to India. Perhaps 
I might even pay you a Httle visit at Bex later on — ^if you wiU invite me! 

Owing to heavy expenses we have rather unexpectedly run short 
of money just when we wanted it for the removal, etc. I am expecting 
some, however, during the next four or five days. Meanwhile I am 
going to London %vith practically nothing except my ticket. 

Your loving, 


La Pelouse, 

23 rd January, 1936 


I am so glad Mummie can come to Switzerland — for so many months 
she has been so keen on leaving Badenweiler that it is sure to do her 
good. But the journey is going to be an awful strain and I should feel 
happier if you were accompanying her, though I suppose with an 
ambulance car Madan Bhai and Annette^ will manage quite well. 

Sister Annette: the nurse attending Kamala Nehru. 


I 16 

I woke np on Sunday morning with a queer singing feeling in my 
heart. At first 1 was not quite sure whether it indicated sorrow or 
joy — later I decided it is always best to assume the feeling is one of 
joy. I lay in bed till nine thinking all sorts of things of the past and 
what the years to come would bring. 1 thought of you and Mummie. 
1 felt curiously peaceful. Where and when had I felt like this before? 
Then I remembered it was at Badenweiler . . . Like that night I felt at 
perfect peace with the world as well as with myself. Since then, the 
feeling has remained. 1 love everything — the horrible south wind 
included — and I am feeling happy and frightfully optimistic about 

The teacher who puts us to bed is like the crocodile in Peter Pan. 
One hears her singing when she is a mile off. I hear her approaching 
now. In two minutes she will be here, saying, 7/ est temps'.^ So I must 

With lots of love to Mummie 8c you. 

Ever yours, 


Clinique Syluaiw, 
2nd Febmary, 1936 

Darling Papu, 

1 waited anxiously till eight p.m. on the 31st. But no telegram came. 
Then 1 decided to phone to this clinique. I was told that Mummie 
had just arrived. 

I came here this morning, Mummie did not have a very good 
night and this morning she was given a bath. And of course the effects 
of the journey are still there — so she does not look very cheerful. She 
has been coughing rather a lot. She has no temperature just now, but 
yesterday & at night it was high. 

Her room here is large & spacious and has a balcony with a lovely 
view of the lake & mountains. There is a bathroom on one side & 
Sister Annette’s room on the other. Next to the nurse’s room is Madan 

1. It IS time. 



Immediately after arrival I had to read out all your letters to Mums. 
Madan Bhai has some difficulty with your handwriting. So you had 
better write in English. Anyway reading those letters gave me news 
of you & I had a peep into your programme. I am glad you saw the 
Chinese Exhibition. 

As a gift from spring, I brought for Mummie, a tiny bunch of the 
first spring flowers that are now blooming in all the fields — dcs petits 
epatiques violets et dcs primcveres jaimes et mturcllement despagrets} Princess 
Anstarchi^ has sent a bunch of roses to Mums. 

With tons of love, 

Mummie sends her love. 


La Pelouse, 

11th Febmary, 1936 

Darling Papu and Mums, 

It was lovely to see both of you again and a week seems an awfully 
long time to wait. I’m afraid I have really got all the bad qualities of 
the only child and feel so dependent on you. I don’t know what I’m 
going to do when I shall be left all alone. 

I hope Mummie is feeling much better. 

With tons of love & kisses. 
Ever your loving, 

NOTE: Soon after her move to the Clinique Sylvana, near Lausanne, 
towards the end of February, 1936, Kamala Nehru’s condition took a 
sudden turn for the worse. She died peacefully on the morning of 
28th February. With her, when she died, were Jawaharlal Nehru and 
Dr Atal. Indira Nehru, too, was close by. Kamala was cremated in 
Lausanne. Afterwards, Jawaharlal carried her ashes for immersion, 
according to Hindu custom, to the Sangaiu at Allahabad. 

Two days before her death Jawaharlal Nehru wrote a poignant 

1. Tiny pretty WolcLs and yellow primroses and naturally some daisies 
•- FE.Anstarchi, a Greek princess and disciple of Mahatma Gandhi 



letter about Kamala to Swami Abhayanandaji. Kamala had often turned 
to Swamiji for spiritual solace during the last years of her life. 

26th February, 1936 

Dear Swami Abhayanandaji, 

Your letter of the 17th came today and it came opportunely. I read it 
out to Kamalaji and it gave peace and joy and a forgetfulness of pain 
for a while. 

She had been keeping fairly well for over two weeks. There had 
been no rise in temperature and it seemed that she was getting over 
her pleural trouble. But gradually, unnoticed almost, other troubles 
grew and yesterday her temperature shot up again. Her body, after 
the terrible long fight it has put up with, seems to have exhausted all 
its strength and is deteriorating. It cannot cope with litde ills even and 
they grow. One never knows what she may not be capable of even 
now but, ordinarily speaking, there is no hope. 

I was to have left her day after tomorrow for India but now I have 
postponed my departure for ten or eleven days. 

With regards, 
Yours sincerely, 
Jawaharlal Nehru 


Heliopolis Hotel, 

8th March, 1936 


Here am I again stopping at a very fashionable hotel, reeking of luxury 
and jazz and dancing, and enormous public rooms, and wide corridors, 
and crowds of waiters and dragomans & page-boys dashing about. I 
take advantage of the lovely bathrooms by having two baths during 
my short stay. 

When I left Marseilles I could see in the distance the snow-covered 
Alps, probably Mont Blanc was one of the peaks. We were flying 
high — about 4500 metres which is, I think, over 14,000 ft. 



The Mediterranean was of a wonderful colour — deep blue, 
sometimes turning to emerald green near the coastline. A spot mov'ed 
rapidly across the face of the waters — it was our shadow. Little islands 
were continually appearing and disappearing, cunningly shaped they 
were, fantastic little things dotted about over the blue sea, which crept 
inside them and sent its arms to embrace them. 

The great height at wliich we were flying made it just a little difficult 
to breathe wth ease. Our plane is a beauty. It is a great big aluminium 
bug with two eyes sticking out over its nose and graceful wings 
stretching out on either side. It bears the name Perkoetet, which in 
Dutch means, I think, wood pigeon or some such thing. 

The height played strange tricks. A fellow passenger took out his 
fountain-pen. As he unscrewed the cap a fountain of ink splashed 
out. The lessening of atmospheric pressure had induced the ink to 
jump out in this way. The poor man’s clothes were spoilt. 

On arrival at the Cairo airport I found Fouad Bey^ waiting for 
me. He was the same as ever and embraced and kissed me. One of his 
first questions was about you. 

His wife is away and so I did not see her. But Bobby, his son, came 
round later and we had a long talk. Fouad Bey told me that he was 
too full of politics to attend to his studies. He belongs to the Bazis 
(after the Nazis) — from Baz, a hawk. I was surprised to find how 
extremely naive he & others were about political matters. 

It would be a graceful thing if you would send a few lines to Fouad 
Bey and tell him that you would be happy to see him when he comes 
to Suisse. This would cheer him up no end. 

From tomorrow the deserts and the day after, India. 

Love fiom, 


River Front Hotel, 
9th March, 1936 


We are in Asia now, in famous Baghdad, but famous in history only 
for today it is a miserable enough place. 

I • Fouad Selim Bey: an Egyptian friend of the Nchrus. 



We covered the 600 niilcs from Gaza to Baghdad in three and a 
quarter hours and were here early in the afternoon. Tomorrow’s run 
is a very long one. It will take us to the heart of India. We pass Karachi 
at tea-time and reach Jodhpur in the evening. There we spend the 
night and another two hours day after tomorrow morning will bring 
us to Allahabad — the end of my journey. 

I went out for a drive with a fellow passenger round Baghdad. It is 
a dreary enough place with nothing to commend it.The women almost 
invariably had long black cloaks covering them from head to ankle, 
usually with their faces exposed. Sometimes the faces also were veiled. 
There were plenty of women about. Most of them seemed to wear 
short skirts under their cloaks and high-heeled shoes. Some had 
slippers without heels or back, like they do in India. In the outskirts 
of Baghdad we saw the quarters of the very poor — they lived in huts 
covered with palm-leaves. Poverty indeed was visible all over the town. 
There were plenty of cafes of various kinds and degrees of 
respectability and all of them seemed to be crowded with people 
(men) drinking coffee or smoking hookahs. I almost shuddered at 
the thought of having to sit there. 

During my drive round the town I stopped at an Indian shop and 
went & introduced myself to the owner. He was a Sindhi. He became 
quite excited and later on he and a crowd of other Indians trooped 
up to my hotel and we talked for about two hours. 

It appears that I have quite a reputation in Iraq. The newspapers 
often refer to me and one of their promising young men — ^who is 
now the Iraqi minister in Rome — ^has been nicknamed ‘the Jawaharlal 
of Iraq’. Fortunately none knew of my coming and I escaped interviews 
and the like. I was glad and I was tired and in no mood for this kind 
of thing. 

This is my last letter to you from the way. My next will be probably 
from Anand Bhawan. 

My love to you, my dear. 

Your loving, 




[Anaitd Bliawaii] 
12th March, 1936 


Yesterday the Pcrkoctet brouglrt me to Bamrauli soon after eight in the 
morning. There were many friends there, sad-looking and silent. At 
home Dol Amma sat looking terribly shrivelled up. The shock had 
been very great for her. 

All day people came and hundreds of telegrams. In the afternoon 
there was a huge procession carrying the ashes to the Satigam. For 
three hours we walked silently right through the city and across a 
long stretch of sand, and then at the Saiigam I put the ashes in the 
Ganga to be borne away to the sea. 

1 have been feeling very tired and weary but I may not rest. The 
Congress session is very near and I must see people before then and 
then sit down to write my address.’ Day after tomorrow I go to 
Lucknow and then to Sitapur (to visit Nani). From there I go to Delhi 
to Bapu. 

Write to Dol Amma. She has been hard hit and a hne from you 
\vill cheer her. 




Lm Pclouse, 

22nd March [1936] 

D.uling Papu, 

1 have your letters. I do not know where or when you will get this as 
you are travelling about. 

How time flies. In less than two weeks the holidays begin. In two 
weeks I shall be admiring the masterpieces of the Ancient Romans 
and the beauties of Grecian culture in Sicily. And in the odd free 

t. Jaw.-il)arbl Nehru was President of the forty-ninth session of the Indian National 
Congress held at Lucknow in April 1936. 



moments — Latin! Somehow I am not excited at the prospect; it is 
queer, for it is the sort of thing I have always liked & it is all the more 
a wonderful opportunity because the teachers with us are experts 
(almost!) in the history of Roman & Grecian art. But somehow I feel 
I would be happier in a tiny cottage all by myself and books. And yet 
when I am alone it is not good for me for I mope. And ‘books’, says 
Mile H. are depressing for me. The exam is coming nearer and nearer 
and I am not at all prepared for it. What’s to be done? I can hardly 
spend more time on my books than I do now, unless of course I was 
allowed to stay up later than eight thirty which everybody thinks is an 
unthinkable idea. 

Your letters are always welcome & I look forward to them but 
please don’t write if you don’t have the time — I feel awfully guilty. 
And please do try to snatch a little rest whenever you can — ^instead of 
writing to me. 

My love to Bapu & namaskars to everybody I know. 

With lots of love, 

I am writing to Dol Amma. 


Harijan Colony, 

22nd March, i936 


Gurudev passed this way two nights ago and I went to see him at the 
station. He made all manner of enquiries after you. He was travelling 
with his troupe to Lahore to give some performances and collect 
funds. It is scandalous that at his age he should have to tour about in 
this way. He is very weak and it seemed to me that his mind was 
giving way — that is, he forgets things very' rapidly. On his way here he 
paid a visit to Allahabad. Bapu told me that Gurudev paid a very 
beautiful tribute to Mummie. I have not seen it but as soon as I get it 
I shall send it to you. 

In Rome I found soon after my arrival that an engagement had 
been fixed up with Mussolini — ^in spite of my repeated requests that 
no such thing should be done. However I stuck to my decision not to 
see him; with great politeness & firmness I declined. It was a very 
difficult and trying time for me. 



Padmaja is here, or rather in New Delhi. She has grown much 
thinner and is very weak and frail. 

Your loving, 

Today I saw an exceedingly beautiful picture. It was by a Bulgarian 
artist, Boris Georgiev. The picture represented the Indian peasant 
with all his misery and resignation and devotion. I looked at it for 
long and was greatly moved by it. On it the artist had written (for he 
has learnt a little Hindi): Daridra Narayan ko Namaskar} He travels 
about in a motor caravan which he has himself built. He made a 
sketch of me today. It was a strain for me to pose for some time. The 
sketch was not bad but he was not satisfied and he is going to have 
another shot soon. 



\Anand Bhawan] 
30th March, 1936 


Perhaps you know that the British Govt, has informed Subhas Bose 
that it he returns to India he is liable to be arrested and sent to prison. 
This news upset me and made me very angry. On arrival here from 
Dellii I had a letter from Subhas asking me what he should do. A 
difficult question for me to answer. AU my inclination was that he 
should come back in spite of the Govt.’s intimation to him. And yet it 
IS not easy to send another to prison. So at first I cabled to him to 
postpone his departure. But on fiirther consideration and after consulting 
colleagues I cabled again suggesting to him to return immediately. I 
have thus made myself responsible for his return to prison.^ 

AU my love. 
Your loving, 

Salutations to God as manifested in the poor. 

2. Subhas Chandra Bose did m fact return and was impnsoned. He was elected President 
of the Congress in 1938 and 1939. 




[La Peloiise] 

1st April, 1936 

Darling Papu, 

I long to come to you to help you in some way so that you may get a . 
few moments of rest. But what can I do from here or even if I were in 
India? And if I were there beside you it would be more painful to see 
your dear face so tired and your eyes closing with weariness and I so 
close by but unable to prevent its being so or to help in any way. 
Please try and snatch a little rest every free moment — I know it is not 
easy for there is such [an] immense lot to be done, but you must try 
for it will help you to do more the next day. 

Spring is so beautiful here and this year it has come earlier than 
usual. I miss you so much — I should like to lead you through the 
garden, show you the magnolias that are opening, to take you through 
fields of swaying daffodils and the woods frill of heather — the bonny 
purple heather about wliich so many poets have sung. 

With all my love, 


Atiand Bhawan, 
1st April, 1936 

Darling mine, 

1 hope you are already in Italy and feeling the charm and magic of 
that beautiful country. How I wish I was with you. 

Do not worry about my having time or not to write to you. I 
always have time for that. 

I wrote to you about Gurudev’s tribute to Mummie. I saw it a 
little while ago and it moved me greatly. I am enclosing it. It is really 
a wonderful thing how Mummies personality has impressed millions 
of people. Nothing like it has happened to my knowledge in India. 
The tributes that have come from the most unexpected quarters have 
not been formal ones; they have been full of affection and sorrow 
and admiration. Character and dignity and quiet restraint, together 



with inner fire, have a way of stealing into the hearts of millions. 

Many poems in English and Hindi & Urdu and other, languages 
have been written. They are not good as poetry, often they are siUy, 
but they give some expression to the universal love which vast numbers 
felt for Mummie. I enclose two such poems for you to see. 

My Longines wristwatch, of which I have been so proud and which 
has given me uninterrupted service for nine years, suddenly stopped 
the other day, to my astonishment. I had no other and I could not do 
without one, so I rushed to a local watch dealer and purchased a 
cheap West End one — an incassable} Three days later the Longines 
changed its mind and started functioning again, but I am a little doubtful 
of it now. It was curious that after returmng from the home of watches 
I should have to buy one in Allahabad. 

Your letter reached Dol Amma today. She was greatly affected when 
she had it read out to her. 

Your loving, 


[Original in Hindi] 

[Anand Bhawan] 
2nd April, 1936 

Dear daughter, 

A letter for you has come from Bapu. I am sending it. He has not 
written neatly therefore I am writing it again so that you can read it 

30 th March, 1936 

Chi} Indu, 

Kamala’s passing away has added to your responsibilities but I have 

1- Unbreakable. 

2. Chiranjiv. May you live long.This term is often used in Hindi when an elder writes 
in an affectionate tone to a younger person. 



no misgivings about you.You have grown so wise that you understand 
your dharma fully well. Kamala possessed some qualities rarely found 
in other women. I am entertaining the hope that all the qualities of 
Kamala will be manifested in you in equal measure. May God give 
you long life and strength to emulate her virtues. 

This time I have been able to have heart-to-heart talks with 
Jawaharlal. I shall leave here for Allahabad on the 3rd April. It has 
been decided that I should stay on till the Congress session but you 
should address your reply to Wardha.^ 

Blessings from, 


6th April, 1936 

Darling Papu, 

Here I am in Rome.We arrived at about 6 o’clock and walked about 
here & there & in the Piazza Venezia. Somehow I am disappointed in 
Rome — it is not what I expected — though of course it is too early to 
judge yet, without seeing anything. 

Florence was a most charming place. The narrow streets and quaint 
houses were delightful and the churches were so beautiful. And there 
were the incomparable works of Michelangelo. At Florence there 
were even a few rickshaws. 

Here everybody talks of the great Italian victories. II Duce’s 
photographs are very much in evidence. 

7th April 
7.30 p.m. 

It has been a lovely day. 

We went to the Museum of the Vatican, St Peter’s & inside the Vatican. 

8th April 
9 p.m. 

We have been looking at the most beautiful things. We have seen 

1 . Town in Madhya Pradesh. In 1930 Mahatma Gandhi moved from Ahmedabad to a 
village called Segaon, nearWardha.This village was renamed Sevagram, the Village 



most of the churches & tliis morning had an audience with the Pope.* 
He looked very tired but seemed sympathetic. 

We are leaving Rome tomorrow evening for Naples and from 
there we go to Palermo. 

I do miss you so & want to write long letters but here we have no 
time. We leave the pension at eight fifteen a.m. and return at nine p.m. 

All my love, 


[Anand Bimmn] 
6th April, 1936 

Darling Indu, 

You must be in Italy having some rest I hope, and filhng your eyes 
with the sight of beautiful things. I think of you wandering through 
that beautiful country and some of the joy that you must experience 
passes on to me. 

We are fiiU up here in Anand Bhawan, overfull with guests. There 
is Bapu and Ba^ and Mahadeva and four others of their party. And 
Vallabhbhai and his daughter. And Mrs Naidu and Padmaja. Betty & 
Raja are here also with their two kids. Tomorrow morning Bui and 
Perm are arriving. Swaraj Bhawan contains a crowd of Working 
Committee members. All day today we have sat in committee and 
talked and argued till most of us were worn out. We repeat the process 
tomorrow and at night proceed to Lucknow. It is all very exhausting 
and the prospect is not an easy one. 

My presidential address is ready now. It is being sent to you by 
ordinary post. 

Your loving, 

1- Pope Pius XI, born 1875, Pope 1922-39. 

2 Kasturba Gandhi; wife of Mahatma Gandhi who was active in social work. She was 
affectionately called Ba (mother) by the people. 




14th April [1936\ 

Darling Papu, 

You must be very busy with the Congress. Here there is such a lot to 
see and hardly enough time. We have to rush through museums & 
churches with the most beautiful mosaics & frescos. 

Sicily is beautiful but except for the Greek temples, museums & 
churches, nothing very marvellous. Everybody in our group is in 
ecstasy at the scenery & flowers. But it is the same in many parts of 
India, where I have been. The people are poor and the roads dirty & 
full of creaking carts & victorias. There are many beggars and a lot of 
singing and shouting in the streets. The people are dark and stare at 
us as at strange objects in a museum — in the villages the sight of a car 
seems to be rare, for as we are passing through everybody shouts to 
each other & rushes out to see the marvel. It reminds me so much of 
India — I feel terribly homesick. 

Mussolini’s sayings are printed m huge letters on village walls & 
at almost every street corner there is printed a rectangle with ‘18 
NOVEMBER’ printed inside. These words are also formed by plants 
& stones in the parks and every Italian carries in his purse a piece of 
paper with the notice — Do Not Forget 18th November. This is the 
date sanctions were applied.’ 

Sicilians are very proud of their little island & especially Palermo. 
The first question anybody in the street asks is how do you like our 

The sea is lovely — we have been bathing three times; it was 

With tons of love, 

1 , In an attempt to stop the which broke out in 1 935 between It.aly and Abyssinia, 
the Lc.igue of Nations decl.ircd Italy the ag^cssor and adopted sanctions against her. 




La Pelouse, 

26th April [1936] 

Darling Papu, 

Back at La Pelouse the trip to Sicily seems just a beautiful dream. 

The trip was lovely and we saw things of wondrous beauty. But 
my thoughts were ever with you. Standing before the gorgeous 
Mediterranean and admiring its wonderful colours, a face tired & sad 
would float on it and I hated myself for being there among such 
loveliness while you had such hard work and were so tired. It was a 
lovely trip — everything was worth seeing but of all Agngento was the 
most magnificent, with its ancient Greek temples — the ruins, of course. 
But to live in, Florence & Taormina are simply paradise. 

All my love, 


[La Pelouse] 

7 th May, 1936 

Darling Papu, 

I did not write to you last Sunday. I have such an enormous lot to do 
that it IS terrible. Apart from meals & other compulsory things such as 
walks, etc., there is not a moment when I am not buried in my 
textbooks.The trip to Sicily was beautiful & I enjoyed it but now I am 
regretting it. I would much rather have worked a httle throughout the 
vacations than to have enjoyed myself then and to have to rush myself 

Agatha Harrison^ has sent me Thompson’s" review of your book.^ 
I wonder if you have seen it. Will the publishers send you all the 
reviews or do you have to fish for yourself? 

1 Agatha Harrison: British Quaker activist who supported the national movement in 
India. She was close to Mahatma Gandhi andjawaharlal Nehru. 

2. Edward Thompson; missionary, writer and close friend ofjawaharlal, who supported 
the cause of Indian freedom. 

3- The Autobwgraphy was published by John Lane, the Bodley Head, in 1936. 



It might interest you to hear that all the frocks I had last summer 
and which fitted me to perfection are now a bit too short and so 
narrow that I can hardly breathe in them and, mind you, they have 
not shrunk! But don’t be alarmed, I shall not rush into the nearest 
shop and buy a set — I have had them all arranged and all’s well now. 
I eat enormously and am much better at gym. 

All my love, 


2nd June, 1936 

Darling Indu, 

I have not been able to survive the six days of my Punjab tour. Four 
days of it have laid me low and today, the fifth day, I am spending 
largely in bed. Punjabi popular welcomes are formidable affairs. In 
my case they have been truly terrific. Both in towns and villages, vast 
crowds have collected and have overwhelmed me. The programme 
has been a terribly heavy one, involving long motor journeys. The 
heat was bad but it was finally the dust that proved too much for me. 
My throat is all swollen and I can hardly speak without difficulty. 

All this great popular affection, though trying enough, is also 
moving. Among a wilderness of excited compliments the most 
charming and pleasing was one from a young man who objected to 
much that was said, but added: tnsi pyare ho te change ho. ^ 

Tomorrow night I go back to Allahabad. 

Your loving, 


In train to Wardlia, 
29 th June, 1936 


My thoughts go to you today especially and I think of the burden of 

1 . You are dear and good 



your examination. It will begin today and you will have your seven 
hours of it, and again tomorrow and the day after. I remember reading 
somewhere what a famous Professor of the Sorbonne said once during 
the Middle Ages. He compared examinations to the sufferings in 
purgatory and came to the conclusion that the former were far worse. 
As a matter of fact, examinations as they are conducted today are no 
real test of anything worthwhile. Often those who do well in 
examinations are failures subsequently in life, and vice versa. So it is 
absurd to take them too seriously or to grow enthusiastic or depressed 
over them. 




Badminton School,^ 
nth July, 1936 

Darhng Papu, 

Sometime ago Efy (Princess Aristarchi) told me a great secret of hers 
& asked me to write to you about it as she was sure you would not 
misunderstand. I don’t know what you can do about it, but still. She 
has an idea, in fact she is quite sure, that Mira Behn^ has done & is 
doing everything to prevent Efy’s coming to India & has tried to 
prevent her coming near Bapu. For this reason Efy does not see the 
Rollands — for they are great friends of Mira’s. Efy does not want 
Bapu or the Ashram people to know about this or indeed anybody at 
^Andrews^ knows & sympathises. 

I had lunch with Menon'* at a Chinese restaurant; he seems to be 
much better & certainly sounded more cheerful. At Oxford I lunched 
one day with Chakravarty. He will soon be going to India for good. . . 

L Indira went to Badminton School in order to learn Latin 

2 Madeleine Slade: Enghshwoman who became a disciple of Mahatma Gandlii. She 
was known as Mira Behn. 

3 Charles E Andrews: Cambridge missionary who supported the nationahst movement 
in India He was a close friend of Mahatma Gandhi andjawaharlal Nehru. 

y.K Krishna Menon radical nationalist who promoted the cause of Indian freedom 
in Great Britain. He was very close to the Nehrus. 



I have a nice room to myself here with a beautiful view — the early 
morning & late evening sky is specially lovely. The sunsets are 
gorgeous. . . . [incomplete] 


[Badminton School[ 
18th July, 1936 

Darling Papu, 

Did I tell you that we saw Ruth Draper in London? She is an American 
impersonator & does original character sketches. She was simply 
marvellous. Without any make-up or change of dress except for putting 
on a shawl or a cardigan on her evening dress, she made herself look 
young or old, fat or thin, tall or short, according to the part she was 
acting and when she was on the stage, although there is no furniture 
& she is quite alone, so perfect was her acting & speaking in every 
detail that one imagined all the other people present. I loved her, 

I wish you had met Miss Baker.* She is very nice. She is very 
interested in the League of Nations & is the Vice-President of the 
League of Nations Union in Bristol. She is a pacifist. The History 
teacher is also very interesting. 

I am getting more used to the place now & have begun to 
distinguish a few names & faces of the 200 people that surround me. 
I like this place. There is a newspaper hour in which we discuss with 
Miss Baker the chief events of the week & various articles & 
developments. Last evening I went to a L. of N. [League of Nations] 
youth group meeting to hear a lecture on pacifism. 

Lots of love, 

1 . Miss B.M. Baker: Headmistress of Badminton School. 




Badminton School, 
25th July [1936\ 

Darling Papu, 

I am still undecided about the tuition during the hoHdays. Miss Baker 
said she would try & find out if it was possible to go out into the 
country which is more desirable than remaining in London. 

I heard from Parvati Kumaramangalam — Mr Subbarayan’s^ 
daughter, Mrs S. is in hospital in Basel. Her daughter & the rest of the 
family live in a village just outside & go into town everyday. She 
invites me to go there for a few days. I am afraid I cannot do so this 

26th July 

I am reading a number of books at the moment: Andre Maurois’s 
Disraeli in French, We Say No by the Rev. Sheppard, some textbooks, 
historical biographies and I have just finished Edith Sitwell’s Victoria, 
Queen of England. I liked it. Maurois also is good. I have a book of his, 
Ariel, which is the biography of Shelley in English and later I intend 
reading his Edward VII et son temps. I want also to read Strachey’s Victoria. 

27th July 

Miss Baker asks me to teU you that if she is cross with anyone it wiU 
be your responsibility for she is reading the ‘auto’ — she has no time 
during the day and so has to read late at night and she finds it so 
interesting that she gets very little sleep & is consequently tired in the 

I have a letter fixim Muriel Lester.^ She says there is a tiny room 
free in her house & I can come for a day or two. She wants me to 
meet the ‘Socialists’ of East London who back George Lansbury.^ 

1 • Dr P. Subbaraynn bamster and pobtical le.ader ofTamil Nadu Parvati Kumaramangakm 
'ws his daughter. The children took the surname Kumaramangalam which is the 
name of the estate of the family Parvati later became a Communist member of the 
Indian Parliament 

2. Munel Lester: social worker in London, who played host to Mahatma Gandhi 
during his visit to Great Britain in 1931, 

2- George Lansbury: L,abour leader of the 1930s. 



27th July, 2.30 p.m. 

Agatha has just had lunch & she will be leaving in a few minutes. 
The decision reached is — I stay in London until the 2nd — spend the 
day in Paris, then go to Bex for a week. On my return to London, I 
shall take tuition & probably live with a family [oQ somebody Agatha 
knows very well, just outside the city. I shall try & take the three 
subjects in Sept. Then come to this school for a term. It is going to be 
a pretty stiff fight for the Entrance. Everybody says its awfully difficult 
to get in & of course I have not had the courses & training required. 
My next letter will be from London. 

Tons of love, 


In nmning train, 
Hyderabad to Multan, 
28th July, 1936 


Travelling brings little rest, for at every station there is a crowd and 
much shouting of slogans, and big baskets of fruits and sweets, and of 
course garlands & flowers. These symbols of affection and good will 
are very welcome but they are burdens and often a nuisance. In the 
cities, caskets and addresses accumulate and I have now two packing 
cases full of them with me — all probably to go to the Allahabad 
municipal museum, and later I hope to the national museum we shall 
estabhsh at Swaraj Bhawan. 

This reminds me. Vyas of the Allahabad municipality has for many 
months been pressing me to give him for his museum the manuscript 
of the Glimpses of World History. I have told him that this is your property 
as they are letters addressed to you. These manuscripts have some 
value and I should like to keep them for our future national museum. 
But, if you agree, I could let Vyas have them on condition that he is to 
return them whenever wanted by us. 

Yesterday I was in Hyderabad, an attractive city. The procession in 
Hyderabad was unique of its kind. Across the narrow bazaar, where 
the rich shops were situated, hung all manner of articles. Each shop 
put its own goods on the strings that stretched across the street. There 
were silks and caps & hats & curtains and lanterns, brushes, biscuits & 



sweets, lofas 8c vessels, & even false beards! You know that wherever 
you may go to in foreign countries, and especially at the great ports, 
there is always a Sindhi shop of silks & curios & onental goods. All 
these Sindhis come from Hyderabad and have their headquarters there. 

Two or three days ago I had a longish camel ride — the first I have 
had. It was across a sandy plain in South Sind. I liked it and found it 
fairly comfortable and I am sure now that I could ride a camel for 
hours wdthout much difficulty. It is a question of swinging your body 
with the camel’s motion and a person used to horse-riding should 
have no difficulty in doing so. But I did not like the smell of the 

In a remote Sind village, as we went in procession, I saw that one 
of the gates that had been created was named ‘Indira Gate’. I thought 
of your heritage of storm and trouble and how, whether you liked it 
or not, you could not rid yourself of it. None of us, in this present age, 
can have an easy time or freedom from storm & trouble. But to some 
of us fall a greater share of them and it is your lot, because of your 
family and other reasons, to have to bear this heavier burden. May 
you be ready for it when the time comes and accept it willingly and 
take joy in it. 

In Karachi and Hyderabad I met a delightful little girl, who is just 
a year younger than you. She is Premi, the daughter of Jairamdas 
Doulatram,’ whom you must remember. She is a very bright and 
intelligent girl and we have become friends. She told me that her 
ambition was to become a Joan of Arc and I remembered your 
admiration for Jeanne d’Arc many years ago. Does that endure still? . . . 

I am glad you saw Ruth Draper. I have read about her and have 
long wanted to see her. 

Your loving, 

f Genera! Sccrctar>’ of the Indian National Congress 19.31—34. 




1st August, 1936 

Darling Papu, 

The news about Dhan GopaP was a great shock. He was such a 
charming personality — so very lovable. He always did have his moods, 
but I never thought it would end hke this. I heard in Bex that he was 
far from well. He was also having a lot of financial trouble — poor 

Since my arrival in London I have been mostly with Raj Chachi 
& Chacha^ and I have been rather bored. Most of the time has been 
spent in shopping — once Chachi spent fifteen minutes inWoolworths 
deciding whether to buy a green or a red pencil! The rest of the time 
goes in eating huge lunches & dinners at Princes [restaurant] or some 
such place. There is little to talk about, for Chacha is a bit narrow 
minded, I am afiraid. If one disagrees with him on the shghtest point 
he gets angry & nervous and one does not know what to do. He is 
very proud of the fact that he has not spent a penny on books for the 
last eight years and that he has read very v. few! I am afraid this is 
something I simply cannot understand. So many good books come 
out every week — it just makes one’s mouth water to have a peep at 
the bookseller’s windows. I daren’t walk in for I am sure I would 
spend a fortune before I walked out again — however I did walk in & 
I did spend quite a lot. This is the only money I have spent in England 
this time except for food, etc. I am sending you a book of Low’s’’— 
some of the cartoons are really good. Agatha thought you would like 
it & that anyway it would do you good to get in a laugh amidst all the 
worry and the work. I have also bought a book of Schweitzer’s^ Sr 
Inside Europe by Gunther.^ Also Edward W/ by Maurois. 

Agatha & I have been room-hunting. We have found quite a nice 
quiet place in Golders Green. It is a very healthy part of London 

1. Dhan Gopal Mukliegee, Indian litterateur settled in the United States, and a friend 
of the family ; he committed suicide. 

2. Shri Shridhara Nehru, a cousin ofjawaharlal and his wife, Raj Dulari. 

3. David Alexander Cecil Low; British cartoonist. 

4. Albert Schweitzer: Alsatian physician, missionary and humanist, awarded the Nobel 
Prize in 1952. 

5. John Gunther: American journalist and writer. 



yet not too far from town. I have made arrangements about coaching. 
I shall be at this place for just a month. Then I shall go to Oxford for 
the exam & then Badminton in Bristol. 

Darling Papu, please take as much care of yourself as possible and 
please don’t worry about me. I shall be aU right & well. 

With very much love, 

Love from Raj Chachi. Love to Dol Amma. 
I am anxious about Padmaja. 



8th August, i936 

Darling Papu, 

Your nice long letter^ from the running tram was a very welcome & 
pleasant surprise this morning. 

However many beautiful sights and places I may see, I return here 
to find that Switzerland is the most beautiful of all. As I write under 
the shade of an enormous chestnut tree, on one side the Dent du 
Midi (my favourite peak apart from the Matterhorn) peeps from above 
thin wisps of clouds and on the other in the far distance shines the 
Lac Leman in this glorious sunshine and the clouds make strange 
patterns of light and shade on the dark, almost awe-inspiring 
mountains beyond. And in the few days that I have had, there has 
been an enormous amount of packing, making parcels & packets, 
replying to an ever-increasing pile of letters, reading & then one has 
to be social & converse charmingly. Phew! On the 10th I go to Zurich. 
I wanted to see Lu & Eva [Geissler] and perhaps Nanu wiU also be 
there. I have to be back in London on the 13th, which means leaving 
Zurich on the 12th or late on the 11th. 

On my way to Bex I spent two days in Paris. Feroze was there 
and he showed me round. We walked & walked & saw everything 
the American tourist sees. I was not a bit tired, although we must 
have walked miles & miles. But now my leg muscles feel awfully 
stiff That’s good for them, is it not? In Paris the first night Mme 

L Refers to letter dated 28 July 1936 (No. 114). 



Morin^ took us to Versailles to see fete de mif' which only takes place 
thrice a year. I liked it very much . . . 

I am afraid the idea of putting the manuscript of Glimpses in the 
museum does not appeal to me. I do not know how much care is 
taken of these things and I should hate anything to happen to them. 
However if you think that they will be quite safe and that it is advisable 
to put them in the municipal museum let Vyas have them. I leave it to 

Tons of love, 


Anand Bhawaii, 
1 4th August, i936 

Darling Indu, 

I have just been to some of the flooded areas in this province. Lucknow 
was not so bad as I thought and my description of the Gomti rushing 
down Hazratganj proved to be entirely fanciful. But round about the 
city and near the riverbank many parts are flooded. Motimahal was 
partly under water. The villages with their mud huts have suffered 
greatly, for the whole village melts away and disappears when the 
waters invade it. The district of Gorakhpur looks almost hke a vast 
ocean. I went about in a boat and it was a pleasing sight to see the 
treetops coming out of the waters. But underneath the waters lay 
tragedy. Over a thousand villages had disappeared and the crops had 
been completely ruined. It was over these fields that I went boating. It 
is a problem to feed and clothe the tens of thousands of refugees. And 
a greater problem will be what to do with them later on. The waters 
are going down now, leaving a scene of destruction behind and a 
stench of dead and rotting fish. 

Your loving, 


1. Louise Morin; French journalist who was later to be in charge of the French unit of 
the All India Radio. She was a friend of the Nehrus. 

2. Pageant of the night, a show ofhght, music, fountains and fireworks. 




24 Fairfax Road, 
N.W 6, 
27 til August, 1936 

Darling Papu, 

From the above address you will see that I have changed my digs. This 
is a great experiment in economizing. I hope it will be all right. Agatha 
had addresses & I had some from my tutors but we could not find 
anything below two guineas a week — even then I would have had to 
take lunch & tea outside. This is a nuisance & a waste of time — none 
of the places were near any restaurant. So I hunted on my own and 
this is the result. I live up on the third floor in a sort of attic. It is a tiny 
room but I have a good ivmdow, which catches every httle wisp of 
breeze passing by. There is plenty of hght and air. But all I can see 
from the window are a few treetops and the sky & the clouds. It costs 
Xil8-6-0, four meals a day, baths, etc., all complete. Besides as it is 
much nearer town than Hampstead (Fairfax Rd is next to Swiss Cottage, 
if you still remember where that is) I save 6d a day on the bus! Don’t 
you think it’s a good bargain — the room is not exactly beautiful but it 
is not by any means ugly & a few flowers improve it a lot. 

Psyche Captain was here a few days ago and took me to see 
Chekhov’s The Seagull, The heroine was Peggy Ashcroft — do you 
remember the girl we saw as Juliet and liked so much. The acting was 
not bad. 

When I was in Paris I just told Mme Morin that the French teacher 
at Badminton School had told me to read modern authors to improve 
my style in French and I asked her what authors she would suggest & 
I should read. Since then I am receiving piles of French books. I feel 
so embarrassed — I don’t know how to keep on thanking her. 

With very much love, 


Anand Bhawan, Allahabad, 
28th August, 1936 

Darling Indu, 

I am typing this letter for a change and for some practice. I get into 



bad habits by relying too much on others. Upadhyaya^ has fallen ill 
and so I have to fall back on my own resources. Of course I get a great 
deal of help from the A.I.C.C. [All India Congress Committee] office 
but I cannot take my private correspondence there and this is 

Apart from our political work, we made some progress with the 
Kamala Memorial Hospital scheme. We have so far made no real 
effort to collect money for it, but we have got about Rs. 50,000 already. 
But really we want ten lakhs and that is a fat sum which is very difficult 
to collect. I would be satisfied if we could get half that for the present 
at least. Quite a number of anonymous donations have come. Bui 
received the other day a big dirty looking bundle. It was a towel 
carelessly pinned together and it contained a thousand five-rupee 

In Bombay we visited two talkie shows. This was not just for the 
pleasure of it but to encourage Indian Talkies which were dealing 
with village life. One of these, called Achhut Kanya, was the story of 
an untouchable girl. It was quite a good film and Devika Rani^ made 
a charming heroine. 

In Bombay I had a novel experience. I made two records, one in 
English, the other in Hindustani. These were the first two records of a 
new Indian gramophone company which has just been started. I gave 
a kind of a message in both to the Indian people. It was a trying 
ordeal and I was quite exhausted by it. The actual recording business 
did not take much time but the tests and trials were long and tiring. 
Then we had to sit in a room which was closed up all round and the 
fans were stopped to prevent any extraneous noise from spoiling the 

Thank you for your delightful gift — ^Low s Political Parade. I found 
it waiting for me on my arrival this morning and I could not resist the 
temptation to look into it even at the cost of other work which was 
waiting for me. 

The news from Spain^ troubles me a great deal. It affects me almost 
as much as if all this was happening in India. Indeed what is happening 
in Spain will have a tremendous effect on Europe and the world, 

1. S.D. Upadhyaya, personal secretary to Motilal Nehru and later to Jawaharlal Nehru. 

2. Devika Rani; filni actress, grandniece of Rabindranath Tagore. 

3. The Spanish Civil War between Republicans and Nationalists broke out in July 



including of course India. 

I found Dol Amma a little better. She is of course very weak but 
she moves about slowly. 

Your loving, 


Amnd Bhawan, 
i4th September, 1936 

Darling Indu, 

I have not written to you for the last ten days or so. It was physically 
impossible for me to do so for I have been touring incessantly and 
not having a moment to myself. My usual day was an eighteen-hour 
one with about five hours of sleep. I have just returned. This morning 
at Eta^vah I had a bit of strenuous exercise. A meeting at a very out-of- 
the-way place had been fixed and a car could not reach it. So I had to 
ride a bicycle for ten miles, a horse for fourteen miles, and to walk 
two miles. All this on a muddy road — the walking was often in ankle- 
deep of mud. The bicycle ride was unusual for me as I had not ridden 
one for long. At one place the bicycle slipped and I had a fall, scratching 
myself in various places. You can imagine how tired I am feeling at 
present . . . 

Your loving, 


Anatid Bhawan, 
24th September, 1936 

Darling Indu, 

For the last five or six hours I have been busy arranging some of 
Mummie’s and your things. So far I have not had time to look through 
the luggage that came from Switzerland. Today I had a good look at it. 



What memories it brought me! I seem to Hve on memories now so 

Your examination must be over — mine goes on and on and there 
are no holidays. But you must have good rest and a change. This 
insomnia business is a bad sign. It shows that you must be run down. 

I had a nice letter from Mrs ToUer^ in which she told me about 
meeting you. I am glad you liked each other. I have many other friends 
in England who are worth meeting. I should like you to meet Mrs 
Huxley, Aldous Huxley’s^ wife. 

Your loving, 


24 Fairfax Road, 
London N.W 6, 
29th September, 1936 

Darling Papu, 

My thoughts are with you every moment — ^your tours must be tiring 
affairs and you must be so weary. And then aU the secretarial work to 
do as well — I hope Upadhyaya is well by now. It is strange that there 
should be so few efficient secretaries among the hundreds of educated 
Indians who are out of work. 

I have begun to laugh (not giggle) rather a lot — that ought to be a 
good thing but I am not sure that it is — I never know whether I laugh 
because I am amused, or to hide some other feeling or just like that 
for nothing. Some people remarked that I have become younger & 
gayer — ^but I don’t know that I feel it. And that ‘laughing business’ I 
do not like. However. 

I do not know how I drifted on to this subject — or what I was 
going to say. Oh yes, the exam — I thought — ^was pretty beastly and in 
my opinion I did the papers much worse than last time. But the 
examiners probably thought otherwise — fortunately for me — and they 
have declared that they are satisfied with my work. In other words I 

1 . Chnstiane Toller: wife of German poet and playwright Ernst Toller. 

2. Aldous Leonard Huxley: English novelist and essayist who was a friend ofjawaharlal 

• GROWIS'G L’r • 


havT pns<;ed Responsions — all but Larin, the toughest subject. I did 
not appear for it this time. I think I will do it in March, along wdth the 
Entrance e.\Mm. Do you think it is wise to apply to another college — 
other than Somerville, 1 mean — -just in case there is no vacancy' there? 

With all all my love, 

Badminton School, 
Wcstbnq’-on- Tryin, 

Sunday, 4tli October [1936] 


It is funny how living in a city by oneself, exploring the roads & 
thoroughfares, one grows to love it. Such is my feeling for London. I 
got to love the crowds, the parks & everything. Perhaps because it was 
the first time I wtas entirely on my own. A tiny little room to sleep 
in — the whole city to live in and no one to bother about you — to go 
& come & do whatever you want to and just when & how' you want 
to. Sometimes it was lonely but I liked it. If only one would not miss 
some people so much. 

All my love, 


[Badminton School] 
6th October, 1936 

D-vling Papuli, 

Your letter of the 24th* arrived this morning. 

Yes, ever^'thing awakens old memories — snaps, stray letters, clothes, 
ordinaty conversation. Somehow all thoughts drift back to the past. I 
thought one forgot wdth time but I find it is otherwise. At first I had 
not realised what had happened but with time — each day — that 
realisation presses deeper into the heart. It almost pushes out all else. 

1. Refers to letter ibtcd 24 September 1936 (No 121). 



Sometimes I do not know what to do. People say one gets used to 
everything. Of course one does — even to torture & sorrow, but as 
long as it continues, does it help to be used to it? 

But why do you have to look at the luggage & other domestic 
affairs when you have such a lot to do? Surely someone could manage 
that — even Hari. 

I should love to meet Mrs Huxley. What does she do — I mean 
apart from managing the house? And before her marriage? 

10th Octobei 

I am thinking of becoming a member of the Left Book Club. Have 
you heard of it? Its aim is to help in the terribly urgent struggle for 
World Peace & a better social & economic order & against Fascism by 
spreading knowledge. All a member has to do is to buy a book — the 
book of the month — fix)m them every month. This book costs 2/6 in 
their special edition, whereas to the general public it may be sold for 
any price up to 12/6. They publish worthwhile books — selected by 
Laski,^ Strachey^ & GoUancz.^ 

Tons of love, 


Somewhere in Tamil Nad 
(my geography is not strong enough to remember their odd names) 

15th October, 1936 

Darling Indu, 

For some days I have been attempting to write to you — in vain. I am 
carried along in a rush from early morning to midnight and it is not 
easy to write after a twenty-hour stretch of speaking and motoring 
alternately. The way the people have come to meet us everywhere 
has been astounding. 

Today I was at Madura and I made a point of going to the famous 
temple there. It was a private visit. Hardly anyone was told of it. But, 
lo and behold, a great crowd surrounded the temple and followed 

1. Harold Joseph Laski: political scientist and Labour leader. 

2. John Strachey: British Labour leader. 

3. Victor Gollancz: left-wing author and publisher 



me into its vast corridors. A strange way to see a place, with a mass of 
seething humanity! My ideas of the temple are consequendy vague. 
But the vast size was impressive and sometimes oppressive. The 
corridors were enormous, and huge statuary, some of which [was] 
very good. I was taken to the inner sanctum, the holy of holies, the 
shrine of Menakshi, an incarnation of Parvati. A great honour. I was 
struck by the curious way of the Hindu faith which refuses to part 
with any born within its fold. Here I am accused of irreligion and yet 
treated as one who is a devout follower. A present of a silk scarf was 
also given to me — a special gift of the goddess. I realised in this vast 
temple with its innumerable corridors and inner chambers, faintly 
lighted up, the great psychological influence of these rehgious edifices. 
How they must impress and rather firighten the multitudes and increase 
the power of the priesthood. That temple put me in mind of the days 
when the priests were triumphant and ruled over the minds of men, 
of the great temples of Egypt and Mesopotamia and, to some extent, 
of the great cathedrals. There are not many people who can resist this 
numbing efiect. 

I have never seen so many roses in my life as here. Everywhere 
there are enormous garlands of roses, fat, heavy things, each containing 
a thousand to two thousand roses. In the coune of the day I might get 
200 of such garlands! It seems such a pity to waste them, and what am 
I to do with these quantities? The car gets filled up and then I distribute 
them to girls and women and children by the roadside. 

Your loving, 



Badminton School, 
21st October, 1036 

Darluig Papu, 

I woke up this morning with rather a wretched feeling — a strange 
emptiness and a desperate loneliness. As the day goes on the feeling 
grows. I attended a couple of lectures but don’t know what they were 
about and it was impossible to read or do any work. To make matters 
worse B.M.B. (the headmistress) said that I must not go to London 



during the holidays but go to Cornwall. I agree that London is not a 
healthy place but it is the only place where I have friends. When 
one’s so dreadfully lonely is that not worth a tremendous lot? 

Please write about this to me & also to B.M.B. She said she has 
written to you. Personally I should like to be at least a week in London 
& the rest of the hols on the Continent somewhere — we will probably 
get a month’s vacation. I promise to take care of myself 

With tons of love, 


Anand Blmmi, 
29th October, 1936 


Lu [Louise Geissler] vvnrote to me that you have to put up with a large 
correspondence and this troubles you a lot. Having myself to deal 
with an enormous pile of them, I know how troublesome they are. I 
have learnt by long practice how to deal with them. Some — the useless 
ones — I destroy, many others I pass on to someone else to answer 
with brief notes on the margin. Still a large number remain and I try 
to deal with them personally. I do it rapidly enough. You cannot adopt 
these dodges and you cannot have other’s help. So you had better 
discourage most of the writers who are not worthwhile. Gladstone 
used to say that most letters answer themselves after some time if you 
simply leave them alone. I am not passing on this advice to you. Still 
one must choose worthwhile persons to see and correspond with, or 
else one is snowed under by the wrong sort of people. 

Your loving, 





[Badminton School\ 

1st November [1936] 

Papu darling 

The weather is miserable. 

The rain it raineth every day. 

The unjust hath the just’s umbrella! 

Is it not stupid? Some bishop sent it to the Times as a comment on 
their article on umbrellas. But at the moment I feel its truth for my 
umbrella is lying in the Lost Property Office! I cannot fetch it tiU 

I find it rather difficult to concentrate on my work these days. And 
I have a great desire to read books other than textbooks. 

Through the Left Book Club I get two of the latest books per 
month. If you like I could send them to you. Of the Left Book Club 
books — I have also World Politics 1918-1936 by Palme Dutt^ and 
Under the Axe of Fascism by Prof. Salvemini. In a few days I will receive 
John Strachey’s The Tlteory & Practice of Socialism & Horrabin’s An Atlas 
of Current Affaiis. 

In French we are doing some poems ofVictor Hugo. I think he’s 
grand. We have just finished ‘L’ expiation’ — an extract from the bigger 
poem, ‘Les Chatiments’! Have you read it, I wonder. It is about the 
retreat from Moscow. Isn’t this beautiful? 

Quel dieu, quel moissonneur de 

I’eternal ete 

avait, en s’en allant, negligemment jete 

cette faucille d’or dans le champs 

des itoiles^ 

1. Rajani Palme Dutt. Marxist leader. 

2 Which God, which reaper 
of eternal summers 
had casually cast off 
this Scythe of gold in 
the firmament of stars 



It is from another of his poems. This reminds me how very lovely 
the sky is nowadays, except when it is hidden by the clouds. I see tlie 
Big Bear very well from my bed and the old old habit — ^asleep for so 
many years — of watching the stars has awakened. It makes me think 
of the days when we used to look at them together & when you used 
to point out each one to me & tell me its name. I remember how 
thrilled I was as you thus solved part of the mystery of the heavens 
and first awakened a new sort of interest for them in me. 

Life here is mostly made of essays — of all descriptions but mainly 

With lots of love, 


November [^936\ 

Papu darhng, 

I have just posted a letter’ to you. In it I quoted a Bishop — but not 
being quite sure of the lines I left a blank & forgot to fill it up. The 
thing is: 

The rain it raineth every day, 
upon the just & unjust fellow 
But chiefly on the just, because 
the unjust hath the justs umbrella.^ 

My love to Dol Amma and the rest of the family. Always your 


1. Refers to letter dated 1 November 1936 (No. 128). 

2. The actual vene is by Lord Bowen (1835-94). 

The rain it raineth on the just 

And also on the unjust fella; 

But chiefly on the just because 
The unjust steals the just’s umbrella. 



In train to Calcutta, 
5th November, 1936 


Yesterday I was in Santiniketan and it was peaceful and quiet there. I 
stayed at Sriniketan as Gurudev was living there and I had a long long 
talk with him about many things. My affection for him grows. I found 
him a little better than he was when I saw him last in Delhi in March, 
soon after my return from Europe, He was more wide-awake, though 
age steals over him. And yet he still thinks of travelling abroad and 
visiting China next summer! But I doubt if he will be able to go. 
Fortunately some big donations have relieved him of financial anxiety 
for Santiniketan. 

We talked of you and he told me what a good influence you had 
been for others in Santiniketan. It is eight months since I saw you, my 
dear, and I wonder how you are growing and changing. Perhaps in 
another six months’ time we might meet again. 

Your loving, 


[Badminton School] 

7th November, 1936 

Papu darling, 

1 have your letter of the 29th.^ Thank you. 

Meanwhile the rebels get nearer & nearer Madrid. Yesterday' was 
the first attack on the town itself. What is going to happen? If they win 
it wnll be a great help to the Croix de Feu in France & odier such 
organisations in other countries. As it is. Fascism seems to be spreading 
almost like flames, while the various Labour parties fold their arms & 
vote for non-intervention. 

Most school debates are on war, peace, the League of Nations & 
such subjects. There [is] great talk of Christianity and God — these 

1. Refers to letter dated 29 October 1936 (No. 127). 



two arguments are shoved into every possible subject. 

Thank you for the things you sent. Dr Kagu^ forgot to bring them 
with him when he came last Sunday. He sent them by post & I received 
them yesterday. The bags are beautiful & the sandalwood smells 
wonderful and they both are so typically Indian. I felt almost at home 
when I saw them. 

With very much love, 
Your loving, 

Sunday, 8th November 

The atmosphere at school is terribly anti-Fascist & very pacifist. B.M.B. 
is a socialist & so are most of the other teachers — the liistory one has 
great tendencies towards Communism. But on the whole, imperialism 
seems to be inherent in the bones of the girls. They worship the King, 
admire Baldwin^ & although Eden’s^ popularity is waning oflf, he is 
stiU considered by some as the last word in cherubic innocence! 

With very much love, 


[Badminton School] 

15th November, 1936 

Papu darhng, 

Thanks most awfiiUy much for the cheque. Do you mind if I keep it 
tiU the hohdays and then buy something in London? For some time 
I have wanted to buy a gramophone or a wireless. The latter, though 
a Httle more expensive (anyway for the gramophone, records will be 
necessary), seems more worthwhile. Going to piano recitals, etc., means 
a lot of money and time. And music is a great help to work — indeed 
sometimes it almost seems a necessity. A gorgeous small radio is 
available for £,S. But you must not spoil me so. Am I not spoilt enough, 

1 . Dr Kailash Nath Kagu; lawyer and nationalist leader who later held ministenal office 
in the Government of India. 

2. Stanley Baldwin: British Prime Minister, 1935—37. 

3. Anthony Eden 0ater Lord Avon): Minister for League of Nations 1935, British 
Forei^ Minister, 1935—38. 

wherever I go? The more one gets, the more one seems to demand — 
things that were once a luxury to be dreamt of, become a necessity 
and so on. 

It IS difficult to fit in with the usual English schoolgirl. I have had 
quite a different life — an entirely different background. Everybody 
seems to talk for the sake of talking. I hate chatting — unless I have 
something to say. 

Strangely enough, in spite of the ‘thick rich cream’ I seem to be 
losing weight regularly. And have almost lost the 4 lbs I gained in 
London during the last holidays. 

I wonder if you have heard of a book called Tlie English: Are They 
Human? I read it years ago in India. It amused me then but I did not 
think much of it. Now when I came into closer contact with the 
English, my mind goes back to that book. I am afraid a lot of the 
admiration I had for the English has vanished — I mean for the people 
as a whole. There are many many exceptions — which, as it were, go 
to prove the general rule. On the other hand, some of the working 
class — the unemployed are really decent & sympathetic. One meets 
them often sitting on a roadside bench in the evening, with little 
clothing in the cold unfriendly darkness. They welcome anything to 
eat or to cover themselves with; for even the morning’s paper their 
gratitude is infinite. I am afraid the numerous boxes of chocolate given 
me by Raj Chachi & Psyche and others have helped to bring smiles 
on several haggard faces. 

I feel I have changed tremendously since you last saw me — I cannot 
describe it to you and I do not know if you will notice it for it is not 
expressed outwardly. 

I was glad of my stay in Santimketan — chiefly because of Gurudev. 
In the very atmosphere there, his spirit seemed to roam and hover 
over one & follow one with a loving though deep watchfulness. And 
this spirit, I feel, has greatly influenced my fife and thought. 

With very much love, 




Anand Bhawan, 
19th November, 1936 

Darling Indu, 

I am back again here — for a day and a half only! 

On arrival here I found a letter from you and the card -with your 
picture and two books: [Peter] Fleming’s News from Tartary and Peers’s 
The Spanish Tragedy. But why Fleming’s book should be a ‘Left’ book 
I do not understand. Anyway both books are good and the kind I 
like. I accepted them as birthday presents. 

All my love, 
Your loving, 

Today is your birthday! We have celebrated it by having Khir. 


[Badminton School] 

21st November [1936\ 

Darlingest Papu, 

I have been trying to analyse my loneliness. It is I think due to my not 
having any real friend. I have got friends but none who really 
understand me, none to whom 1 can speak what I feel — most people 
think I am gone off my head slightly. There are people who understand 
one side of me & others, who sympathise with other parts but no one 
can realise what the whole is. However. 

During the holidays, I am going to Switzerland with friends — 
probably to Grindelwald in the Bernese Oberland. I have never been 
in that part of Suisse before — it ought to be fun if there is enough 
snow. I shall go for eighteen days, most probably & stay the rest of the 
holidays in London. I promise to be good. The vacations are almost 
here & will as soon be over. And then will come the exam — I am 
dreading it — and then the visit to India, to which I am looking forward, 
oh, so eagerly! 

With very much love, 



23rd November 

Mcghaduta^ has just arrived. What a beautiful gift. It is like you to think 
of the right thing. You cannot imagine what joy it brought to me — the 
sunshine and the warmth of India in this damp & dreary land. 




[Badminton SchooI\ 

6th December [IP36] 

Darling Papu, 

The excitement over the constitutional crises has overshadowed foreign 
affairs.There are pages about the King^ & the Cabinet & extracts from 
other pages about the same subject — the war in Spain has receded 
into the background. Personally, my sympathies are with the King. 
Although I do agree with most of the newspapers which have long 
articles about the duties of a king-emperor — only the News Chronicle 
& the Star show any consideration for the man’s feelings. As it is, large 
crowds gathered outside the Palace, shouting that they were with him. 

Tons of love, 


Anand Bhawan, 
14th December, 1936 


You must be leaving school for the Christmas holidays. After a period 
of hard work a holiday is pleasant and I hope you wiU enjoy it. And 
through you I shall also have my share of joy. The present is rather a 
heavy time for me. The Congress is coming and I am again to be its 
President. The presidential address is the next job for me — a difficult 

3. A well-known poem by the Sanskrit poet Kalidasa 

2 British newspapers first printed stories about the relationship between Mrs Simpson 
and King Edward VIII on 3 December 1936.The King abdicated on 1 0th December. 



one, for my mind is tired and stale. Ten days in the Himalayas would 
freshen me but I could not possibly manage them. 

So you have changed!^ Of course you have and you should at your 
age. I find myself growing and changing even at my age. Strangers 
may not notice such changes for they see the surface only, but when 
there is an emotional bond between two persons even slight moods 
become apparent. A gesture, a word, a way of looking or speaking 
betrays the change. So you are not likely to pass unnoticed by me, or 
rather the change in you. Only the dull and self-centred ones remain 
more or less static. And we are not dull and too narrow, are we? 

Edward Thompson, whose article you sent me, has paid us a rather 
nice compliment. ‘You Nehrus,’ he writes to me, ‘have been very 
lucky in many ways, and lucky most of all in your charming and 
splendid women.’ He was thinking of Mummie perhaps, about whom 
he had read in my book, and he had recently met Nan. He goes on to 
say: ‘Your Letters to Indira are an altogether charming record. If she 
will regard my wife and niyself as friends we shall feel honoured; and 
she will find we are friends.’ They live at Oxford. So when you go 
there you might meet them. They will help you to form your ideas 
about the English as a race. 

I was amused to read about your reactions to the English. They are 
a curious people. I must say I like many of their qualities — most of aU 
their restraint. It impresses one. It is an aristocratic quality. But when 
the aristocrat becomes afraid of losing his special privileges he comes 
down the scale immediately. And so the English people, fearful now 
of losing their special position, are losing the good qualities they 
possessed. Yet some remain. Unhappily we have always come into 
touch with the wrong side of them. That was inevitable as our 
relationship was all wrong. 

I suppose the change of kings and aU that lay behind it has excited 
people a lot in England.The human element in the drama was powerful 
and when kings behave as simple humans, people are gripped by the 
story. On the whole Edward came out rather well. Not as a very great 
person, but at any rate as one who refused to behave as an automaton 
and who could decide for himself in spite of all the pressure that was 
brought to bear on him. I listened to his farewell speech on the wireless. 

AU my love. 
Your loving, 

1. See letter dated 15 November 1936 (No. 132). 

Section II 

Indira Comes into Her Own 



In train, 
4th Janiiar)’, 1937 


1 wrote to you before going to Faizpur, tvvo weeks ago, and there has 
been this big gap since. The Congress is over now with all its huge 
crowds and stress of work and you will read about it in the papers. We 
did our work rapidly and in a businesslike way and ended sooner 
than was expected. Indeed we had to, for the very success of this 
village’ was more than we had bargained or arranged for. Nearly 
200,000 persons are said to have poured into Faizpur and to feed 
them itself was a terrible problem. In a big city there are shops and 
large stocks of food but not so in a village. So I hurried through the 
business and finished the Congress on the 28th night. The ne.xt day 
there was a committee meeting and then I stole a day for Ajanta, 
which sws not far. Quite a crowd went with us. I would much rather 
have gone quietly with a few friends. But that was not to be and I can 
seldom go anywhere now quietly. 

How beautiful are the painted Bodhisattvas^ and the women of 
Ajanta! After more than a thousand years of decay and covering over 
with dirt, and scratching by man and beast, still they live on those 
walls and fill one wth longing for this beauty of mind and body, so 
far so unattainable. So they look today. What must they have been 
long years ago when the paint was fresher and the legends they embody 
vivid in people’s minds. And what of the unknown artists who created 
them with all love and reverence. And what of that culture which 
flourished in this old land of ours in the dim past, how rich its content 
was, how splendid its imagining, how titanic its conception! 

One looks at those lovely and graceful figures almost with pain. 
They have a dreamlike quality, far removed from the vulgarity and 
cheapness of the life we see. There is no haste about them, only a 
slumberous ease and peace. 

1 am sending you by ocean mail some pictures of Ajanta. 

Your loving, 

! The annual session of the was generally held in some large town However, 

^ in Oeccnibcr 1936 it was held for tlie first time in a village c.illed Faizpur. 

One who is on the way to the attainment of perfect knowledge. Hence — ‘a future 




43, Belsize Park, 
London N. W 3, 
9th Januaiy, \931 

Papu darling, 

Well, here is 1937 and half the holiday is over. Wlien I got off the train 
at Victoria I had not the vaguest idea where I was going to stay — ^1 
hated bothering any friends such as Miss Harrison or Mrs Grant Duff 
for I shall be in London quite a few days. I went into the nearest 
phone box & rang up various likely places with no success. The only 
thing to do was to leave my luggage somewhere & find a room. So I 
tramped & tramped. It was a good idea coming to Swiss Cottage for 
most of the houses in this locality have rooms to let. But no such luck, 
every house was full. Just as I had given up hope, I decided to have 
one more try. I knocked at No. 43, Belsize Park, and here I am in an 
awfully nice room. There is not much view but it is very nicely 
furnished and is cheerful and fairly big. 

C.F.A.^ is in England and if he comes to London before I leave for 
Bristol I shall see him. He will have first-hand news of you. I hear he 
is not very well. 

I am glad you liked Mummie’s picture done by the German artist. 
I have not seen it, although it is a copy of a snap I have. There are so 
very few good pictures of Mummie. 

With very much love, 


43, Belsize Park, 
18th January, 1937 

Darling Papu, 

I have your lovely letter of the 4th,“ written soon after the Faizpur 

There are so many things we must do together — but will they 

1. C.F. A.: C.F. Andrews. 

2. Refers to letter dated 4 January 1937 (No. 137). 



ever come off? I have never been to Ajanta or Ellora. Three times I 
prepared for the journey with the Vakils but luck was against us. Once 
Kaka fell seriously ill, another time there was a severe storm & we 
could not go because a big bridge broke down and the third time I 
forget what happened. 

I am looking forward very very much indeed to the summer 
holidays, for with it will come India & you. Do you think there is any 
chance of your going to jail? 

My mind feels suddenly tired and anxious. I do not know if I shall 
be able to pass & be admitted to college. What will happen if I don’t? 
Will it mean another year of just this or what shall I do? 

With very much love, 


Anand Bhawan, 
7th February, 1937 


I fell asleep as I was writing to you m the train. Suddenly I was woken 
up at Barabanki and dragged out of the train. There were meetings by 
the roadside on the way to Lucknow. From Lucknow 1 went north to 
Bareilly, etc., and then came back here. Today I am off^ to Maharashtra. 
On the 1 8th I take a plane to Cannanore m Malabar. And so on and 
on till the 20th when I hope to have a brief respite in Anand Bhawan. 

On arrival here I received your two letters. I suppose there is no 
doubt about your success in the Somerville exam. Don’t worry. But 
suppose you do not succeed — what then? It seems rather absurd for 
you to spend another year in preparing for it. That would be precious 
time wasted It may be desirable for us to change your plans 
completely and leave out Oxford and revert to the Continent — Paris. 
But there is no point in our thinking of this now. 

You had better come here as soon as you can ... I am inchned to 
think that an air journey by K.L.M. is indicated. This is very expensive 
It IS taie but it has its advantages. I should like to have you here as 
long as possible and Dol Amma’s health is so precarious that I want 
you here soon. Perhaps you have heard that she has had another attack 
of paralysis. This was a mild one and she is slowly recovering but still 



she is very weak and I am afraid she has not a long span of life in fiont 
of her. She is very keen on seeing you. Naturally. So I think you had 
better come by air early in April. 

Unfortunately John Lane has bust up and so my royalties have 
gone in the air. 

Remember, it will be hot after you leave Europe and it will be 
very hot over Western Asia. Keep a pair of sunglasses. Better travel in 
European dress. You can take to the sari at Karachi! 

All my love, 
Your loving, 


Badminton School, 
8th Febinary, 1937 

Darlingest Papu, 

I should love to go by air and it does save time. But it’s awfully expensive. 
As it is, I hate asking for money beyond the ;^50 every other month. 

I have been following the elections in the Times — it is surprising 
how much more news of India appears in the Times than in the 
Manchester Guardian. These days, there is sometliing about the elecrion 
or the Congress every morning in the Times and in spite of the 
propaganda one can get at what’s happening out there. 

I was avsTuUy excited over the victories in Sind & Bihar. I do hope 
we get a majority everywhere.^ 

I am looking forward so very very much — it is quite impossible to 
express in words, just how much — to seeing you. But I do hope I 

1. Indian Elections: Although the Congress rejected the new Constitution imposed 
upon India by the Government of India Act of 1935, it later decided to participate in 
the provincial elections held under tliis Constitution Tlie Congress emerged victorious 
m Bombay, Madras, the United Provinces, the Central Provinces, Orissa, Assam, 
Bihar, Sind and the North-West Frontier Province.The election results demonstrated 
the hold of the Congress over the people. The Party then proceeded to form 
Governments in these provinces. In two provinces — ^Bengal and Punjab — the 
Congress failed to secure absolute majorities; non-Congress coalition governments 
were formed there. 



shall be able to be with you & that you will [not] have to go rushing 
all over the place all the time . . . 

With all my love. 
Ever your loving, 


BadniiiKoit School, 

13 th Fcbmaiy, 1937 

Darling Papu, 

There is not much news to give, I am going on with my work, feeling 
more & more disgusted with Latin and the English climate! 

A Spanish lady — Dr Komas — lecturer in Biology at the University 
of Barcelona, has come to England, I don’t quite know why. She 
came to Bristol and stayed with Miss Baker. 1 think she spoke at the 
University here. We also had a small meeting, some of the staff, the VI 
form, some of the other older girls in the school and a few outsiders. 
Dr Komas said little about the war itself, apart from briefly sketching 
Its backgi-ound. She spoke of what interested her most: children and 
education. She told us of the groups of people who were trying to 
shield the children of Spain from the horrors of war, to give them as 
calm an education and as healthy a life as possible in the circumstances. 
Big colonies have been founded in Barcelona and Valencia for children 
and here the littlest ones are sent by tram from Madrid and the 
surrounding villages in the hands of the government. In these colonies 
there are schools; the children are clothed and fed. Many of them 
wear new clothes for the first time in their lives. The Barcelona 
booksellers told Dr Komas that they had never before sold so many 
children’s books. Food is scarce but the grown-ups manage with 
biscuits and anything else that they can get whilst all the milk and 
bread available is sent to the colonies for the children. The mam 
difficulty so far is the transport of the children, for the trains are very 
slow & the journey is made much longer by the necessity of having 
to avoid the fighting fronts. One would hardly expect Madrid to rejoice 
during Christmas or New Year, but the government said that the 
children should not be disappointed. A ‘children’s week’ was organised: 
everybody gave voluntary help and during that week the children 


had their cinema shows and games. Every child received a toy — many 
for the first time. ‘We tried to make them happy,’ said Dr Komas, ‘and 
their smiling faces gave us renewed courage and strength; they made 
us happy and we were glad that all that was possible was being done 
for their safety and welfare.’ But this was only m the daytime. At night 
they woke up at the sound of bombs — the little ones cried and the 
older ones remembered the terrible scenes of war. 

Dr Komas, I found, was very charming. She spoke quietly but 
without any sign of emotion. Her English was very broken but it was 
surprising how well she chose her words. 

Meanwhile the non-intervention committee is deciding whether 
‘other European countries’ should intervene in the war! 

I wonder if you have ever been to Hyde Park on a Sunday — it’s 
priceless. The other day, when I was in London, I was passing through 
& overheard the following: ‘And why do we want a foreign policy 
and foreign relations? Aren’t the ones at home good enough?’ 

With very very much love, 



A mud Bbawcin, 
22nd February, 1937 


For a change I have actually been in one place for four days and I 
have not held forth at a public meeting during all this long period! 
This is a change for me, for previously for months I have been 
addressing a dozen or more big meetings daily. 

And now about your plans. I understand that you will finish with 
your exam on 22nd March — ^a month today. I should like you to stay 
in India as long as you can conveniently do so without interfering 
with your work. There is a very very faint possibility of my going to 
Europe in autumn, perhaps September. If this comes off, I should 
like to accompany you back. But my going is very doubtful. 

I expect you to start for India as soon as you can easily manage it 
probably at the beginning of April. Don’t arrive here on the 1st of 
April! It is going to be a big hartal day for us — an anti-Constitution 
demonstration. But you can come as soon after that as possible. I have 



made no programme for April and after. I want to wait for your arrival. 
There is of course the Burma trip to be undertaken some time. 

After your arrival here you will of course stay for some time in 
Anand Bhawan with Dol Amma. Chand, Tara and Rita will not be 
here. They will be at Woodstock.^ They have a fortnight off during 
the summer and the idea is that they and you & I might spend this at 

Before you return, see Agatha and Krishna Menon. They might 
want to send something to me. 

Bring two or three small soft leather purses with you — the kind 
with the zip attachment, which are meant for loose silver. They used 
to cost a mark or so in Germany. 

This will reach you on the eve of your exam. Good luck to you. 
Do not worry or work too hard. Keep fresh. That is the best way to 
face an exam — another few hours’ work will not make much difference 
but tiredness and freshness do make a tremendous difference. 

Your loving, 


[Badminton School] 

23rd February, 1937 

Darhng Papu, 

Krishna Menon phoned to me on Saturday night asking me if I could 
go up to London on Friday, 5th March & in connection with some 
entertainment or other, in which I would have to make an appeal for 
Spain. Just before the call, I had been reading the Times’s account of 
Madrid and the description of the town, the queues of hungry 
people — shops which did not want to seem empty & so had decorated 
their windows with multi-coloured boxes and tins, and had a little 
printed notice on one side saying that these boxes contain nothing 
but sawdust! (This is not entirely true, says the Times correspondent. 

1 A co-educational school at Mussoone, founded by missionaries from the United 

2. An estate in Binsar, near Almora, bought by R.anjit Pandit. 



they had plenty of toothpicks!) It was all so vivid in my mind that I 
said I would if I could. I have asked Miss Baker and she has given me 
permission to go up to London for the weekend just after my exam. 

With lots of love, 


Anand Bhaum, 
2 5 til February, 1937 

Indu darling, 

Your letter of 13th February^ (in pencil) came two days ago. I liked 
your account of Dr Komas’s lecture on Spain so much that I have sent 
it to the press! 

Two or three days ago I sent you a cheque for :jC,S0. Previously 1 
sent ^20 and soon (early in March) you will receive ^50 from 
Bachhraj.^ I imagine this will meet your journey and other expenses. 
However I enclose another cheque for ;^10. It is possible of course 
that my calculations are wrong and you may want more. If so, send 
me a brief cable mentioning the amount. Or in case of emergency I 
suppose you could ask Agatha or Krishna Menon for a few pounds 
which I could immediately send them. 

I am just off to Wardha. 

My love, 
Your loving, 


Badminton School, 
5th March, 1937 

Darling Papu, 

As I wrote to you in my last letter, Menon has persuaded me to speak 

1. Refers to letter dated 13 February 1937 (No. 142). 

2. Bachhraj & Co, banking firm owned byjamnalal Bajaj, businessman and nationalist 



at an ‘Indian Evening’ arranged by Mrs Saklatvala^ and the India- 
Spain League. I thought it was going to be a tiny affair but alas! I was 
sadly mistaken. Strachey is also speaking & the public will consist of 
people like the London School of Economics students! However, 
one must make the best of a bad job. I propose busying myself for at 
least two days in pamphlets and books on Spain. But I think I shall 
speak on the lines of Dr Komas’s lecture, for that is a side of the 
question that interests me. Besides it has been given little publicity, 
whilst hundreds of pamphlets and books and lectures have dealt with 
the various political aspects and the effect of the war on the outside 
world. There will also be dancing — Indian — and other such 
entertainment at the ‘evening’. It is on Friday, the 12th. 

1 shall go to London on Thursday, the 11th, & return to Bristol on 
the 13th. Then I have to wait here & see if Somerville wants me. If it 
does, I shall have to go up to Oxford, if not I shall go to London at the 
end of the week — that is on the 21st. 

All my love to you — An rcuoir, A hientot} 



[Badminton School] 
14th March, 1937 

Papu darling, 

I went to London for the weekend. It was nice to get away fixim the 
monotonous routine of school and to meet new and interesting people. 
I arrived at Paddington on Thursday morning and from then till 
Saturday evening when I got into the train for Bristol at Paddington it 
was one tremendous rush. I have come to tlie conclusion that weekends 
in London are not desirable — specially when people know that I am 
coming there. Anyhow it was all in a good cause. We collected nearly 
on the platform at the ‘Indian Evening’ for Spain. And we must 
have got over /j20 from the seats — even though admission was free. 
Another good outcome of the meeting was that I met John Strachey. 

!• Scliri S-iklaw.-ila-wife ofShapuiji Saklatvala.a radical leader of the Indian community 
in Groat Britain. 

2 See you soon 



He only said a few words to me but I like him awfully. 

I have definitely booked my seat on the plane leaving Amsterdam 
on the 31st morning. This means leaving London on the 30th. 

I shall be in India early on the 4th April. 

I do hope you won’t get arrested on 1st April! People here seem 
to think there is a possibility. 

With very much love & kisses, 


16th March 

Have just heard from Oxford. I have to go up tomorrow for an 


Badminton School, 

20fh March [1931] 

Papu darling, 

In my last letter^ I told you that I had been sent for, for an interview. 
I was rather terrified but it was not half as bad as I had expected. I had 
three interviews — one with the Principal and the other two with my 
future dons. They asked very general questions — I was told that my 
history papers were very interesting and my style of writing was so 
nice that it was a pleasure to read whatever I wrote! I got very good 
marks for French and my Latin was abominable!! I was asked if I 
would be able to work at it between now and October, if I came to 
College in October! Of course I said that I would try to! 

I shall know the final result on Wednesday. 

Since I spoke at the Spain-India meeting I received an invitation 
from Edinburgh to go there during the Easter vac. and speak to the 
Indians. This person writes that he has made several attempts at getting 
help for Spain but many of the Indians say ‘why shouldn’t the money 
go to India?’ Hence he has not been frightfully successful. Of course 
I am unable to go. 

Then Fenner Brockway" asked me to write an article for the New 

1. Refers to letter dated 14 March 1937 (No. 147). 

2. Archibald Fenner Brockway: leading member of the Independent Labour Party who 
took a sympathetic interest in the national movement in India. 


• INDIRA COm'eS into HER OWN • 

Leader on what is going to happen in India on April 1st and why.^ At 
that time I had exams going on, so I could not. Besides I am not very 
sure if 1 could write such an article. 

I have been following your activities with interest — ^but I do not 
like writing to you about such affairs for I think you have an overdose 
as it is. 

With heaps of love, 


2nd July, 1937 

Darling Indu, 

I felt rather sorry at not having you here. I should have liked you to 
see the village work & Bapu s surroundings here. But this time when 
we had to return from Bapu it was raining hard and it was not possible 
for a car to go to the village. So we came back m a tiny bullock-cart — 
Maulana Abul Kalam Azad^ and I wedged in and being bumped and 
shaken for over an hour, I decided then that you were well out of it. 

Your loving, 


P & O Steam Navigation Co., 
SS Viceroy of India, 
18tli September, 1937 

Darling Papu, 

We are nearing Suez — will probably reach it at four a.m. tomorrow. 

I spend over two hours every day in the swimming bath. It is the 
most marvellous bath I have ever seen on a ship — ^Pompeiian, they 
call it. I wish the colours were more subdued — glaring red piUars & 
light green tiles that don’t like the red! And in the water me in a 
bright orange bathing suit! 

See letter dited 22 February 1937 (No. 143). 
— A leader of the struggle for freedom m India. 


• TWO AION'i;. TWO TOGf.Tm;K • 

The rest of the time goes in doing work for Somerville & walking. 
In the evenings there i.s always something on. Yesterday there was the 
cinema &c the night before a race meeting. I won ten shillings and 
sixpence! Not bad for a first go, was it? 

Lots of love & kisses, 

2ht September 

A most awful man has come on board at Port Said. And as luck would 
have it — he sits next to me at table! Almost the first thing he said to 
me was that Gurudev — Tagore — had died on the 16th.' 1 read the 
wireless news every morning but had not noticed anything except 
that he was seriously ill. I looked through all the piles but could find 
nothing & nobody on board could help me. I am feeling so upset — 
it is awful to be in such uncertainty. And I do hope that the news is a 
false alarm. 

We have only three more days to reach Marseilles. 

Lots of love, 


P & O Steam Navigation Co., 
SS Viceroy of India, 
23rd September, 1937 

Darlingest Papu, 

Yesterday was the most marvellous day we have ever had on such a 
voyage. First — a litde before lunch — ^we saw a submarine emerge out 
of the waters & come towards us very suspiciously. When it discovered 
who we were it turned back — rather contemptuously! We saluted it 
by dipping our flag & it returned the salute. It was an Italian one. (It 
was only that very morning that we had learnt that Italy too had agreed 
to the Nyon Pact.)^ This was probably one of the first patrols. Already 
we were nearing the shores of Sicily — soon Italy too appeared. We 
had a most gorgeous view of the two coasts for we passed through the 

1. Rabindranath Tagore actually died on 7 August 1941. 

2. Nyon Pact: treaty signed by Great Britain and France at Nyon, Switzerland, m 1937 
to extend protection to the Spanish Navy. 



Straits of Messina. Do you remember how enthusiastic I was about 
Taormina when I was there with the Ecole Nouvelle in Easter 1936? 
I had no idea I would see it again so soon — so when Sir C.V.^ showed 
it me through his binoculars I got so excited! I jumped up on the 
railings until somebody behind said, ‘Hey now Miss be careful!’ 
Unfortunately it was cloudy & it was not possible to see Stromboli. 

At about five p.m. we passed the volcano Stromboli. It was absolutely 
grand At first we saw just the steam coming out but as we came closer, 
there was a grand explosion — a column of fire and then quiet. 
Magnificent isn’t the word for it. Sir C.V. was wildly excited & so was 
I, so much so that the whole ship stared at us instead of at the Stromboli. 

During this voyage I have seen innumerable ‘optical illusions’ — 
because Sir C.V. is always there to point them out. As we were entering 
the St. of Messina, this is what it looked like. 

NOTE: See sketch shown on page 170. 

Tons of love & kisses, 


Two days ago something happened to break the monotony of the 
ship life. The P & O Co. booked two berths for four passengers — or 
so they say. Two of them — Indian students — occupied the berths in 
Bombay. In Aden they were told that they would have to move to a 
four-berthed cabin. They refused & the purser said it was aU right. 
The students wanted to go to Cairo so they disembarked in Suez. 
When they came on board again at Port Said they found that their 
had been moved. They complained to the purser who said 
that he was very sorry but that now what had been done could not be 
undone — sort of thing. The real reason for doing this was that the two 
passengers who now occupy the two-berthed cabin are Europeans — 
and how could they be put in a four-berthed cabin with an Indian. 
Of course nobody will ever admit this. The treatment given to Indian 
students, particularly those travelling second, is appalling. This is not 
the first time such an incident has taken place — nor will it be the last. 
But on this particular ship when there are people such as Mohan 

1 C V. Raman' Indian physicist who was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1930. 







\ • IV 


S. Jt_l» • V- r'C.-^ ^ 

^ ^ T|. 


Kumaramangalam^ 8c myself on board, we cannot take it lying down. 
First we decided to demand an explanation from the Commander 

1 . Surendra Mohan Kumaramangalam: contemporary of Indira Gandln in Great Britain, 
prominent in student politics. He was later a leading member of the Indian 



but now we are writing to the P & O board of directors & are issuing 
a press statement, the whole idea being to get Lloyd Triestino & other 
bnes to give concession rates to Indian students. I think we will succeed 
to some extent at least. What a blow it would be to the P & O if they 
lost the student passengers. We must show them that they cannot treat 
us anyhow just because we are going half price! We are not introducing 
any racial element m the statements and I am glad to say that more 
students are also taking an interest! 

This letter seems to go on & on. And reading it over I find it is 
most boring. But it just means so much time spent with you. And that 
is so precious to me. But you know & I know that wherever I am, 
whatever I am doing, a corner of my mind is thinking of you — 
accompanying you on your journeys & watching you at home. I do 
miss you so much, darhng — and I do so love you — much more than I 
ever did before. 

Please do take care of yourself and come to Europe in the summer. 
I shall be looking forward to it. 

All my love, 


23rd Septembef, 1937 

My darling one. 

You must be in France now — how far you are from me! I am afraid I 
shall not come soon to you, for I am tied up by the strong ropes of 
circumstance and responsibility. They are of my own seeking and 
hence aU the more difficult to get rid of. I should love to go over to 
see you and perhaps I may do so next year. But I think it is as well that 
we meet infrequently, for you should grow up unhampered by my 
presence and ideas. Each one of us has to find anchorage and to lean 
on others is not helpful. For over five months we were together — a 
long enough time — and no doubt we influenced each other as we 
were bound to do. And yet, is it not curious that during all these 
months we hardly had a proper conversation, apart from our brief 
talks about our day-to-day activities. I felt the gulf between two 
generations and I could not bridge it. No doubt you must have felt 
this way also. 



I am very glad you were with me during these months, for personal 
reasons of course, but also because they enabled you to have some 
glimpses of present-day India and of the kind of life I lead. I am tired 
of this life but I must carry on till February next when the Congress 
meets at Haripura. Not much rehef will come even then for the burden 
of responsibility will continue but still I shall feel free. Already people 
are beginning to talk of my continuing as President for another year — 
an absurd proposition to which I cannot agree. But somehow I have 
come to occupy a curious position in Indian politics and people are 
afraid that another person as President may not be able to hold the 
balance between various forces and tendencies as I have done. But I 
am quite sure that I must not continue. 

Nani^ is here and I met her today. 

Also don’t forget to visit Edward Thompson & his wife at Oxford 
(Boar’s Hill). He has written to me so many times about this and if 
you do not see him he will not forgive me. 

The lions in the zoo roar away here and I listen to them at night. 

All my love, 
Your loving, 


Anand Bhawaii, 
30th September, 1937 

Darling Indu, 

I have been living here in Anand Bhawan, a solitary individual, feeding 
by myself, working alone except when I am in [the] office. I sit here 
in my room and the door connecting it with your room is usually 
open. And at night, and sometimes in the daytime too, I go to your 
room and have a look round and say goodnight to it. Your presence 
seems to hover round the room and I have not liked the idea of 
disturbing anything in it. Various oddments lie about, as you left them, 
and one has a feeling that the room has been recently occupied. 

Apart from my usual work, I have foolishly agreed to write articles 
for various foreign periodicals. This is weighing on me. I like to write 

t. Rajpati Kaul: mother ofKamala Nchni. 



and I want to write — all manner of ideas and words and phrases float 
in my mind. But it is difficult to do so in odd moments when one is 
tired out However I shall have to keep my promise. Early in November 
1 am keen on going to Assam where I have never been.Tliese Frontier 
Provinces attract me. The Kashmiri blood, I suppose, has a border 

And so we carry on, and meanwhile you explore Oxford and 
gradually fall into the life there, and the Japanese bomb and kill the 

Your loving, 

I am getting any number of letters protesting against my sending 
my daughter to a foreign country, especially England, for her education. 
This is supposed to be an offence against narionalism. 


Somewillc College, 
10th October, 1937 

Darlingest Papu 

So 1 am in College at last! I came up on the 7th from London, feeling 
terribly nervous and agitated. I do not know why it is that the litde 
things upset me so much more than the bigger ones. Well, I arrived 
here at about two on Thursday with piles of luggage and everything 
was so strange, so new and so terrifying. There were innumerable 
interviews & the seemingly endless dark corridors of Somerville did 
much to augment the existing confusion. The next two days were 
pretty' frill; more intersdews and lectures on the tradition of Somerville 
and rules and regulations. Then there was the unpacking and the 
try’ing to get an air of comfort and beauty into my litde room. I am 
afraid I am not very thrilled by the aesthetic sense of die English. The 
rooms — except a few in the newest part of the building — are terribly 
uncomfortable and ugly; 

t. The Sino-J.iji.inese War of 1937-45 started as a skirmish between Japanese and 
Chinese troops on the outskirts ofPeking.but within three weeks had developed into 
all-out Japanese olTensive. 



Fortunately for me, I had met quite a number of ‘Freshers’ when 
we all came up for our viva last March. That made the first few days 
here considerably more bearable. I have made fi-iends wdth a charming 
Arab girl. She has lived mostly in England, having left Syria when she 
was about eight, but her features are unmistakable. Then there is a 
lovely Parsi girl who looks & is completely English. I have friends in 
other women’s colleges too. I have also become the secretary of the 
Indian Majlis & a member of the executive of the China-India 
Committee. It is so difficult to collect funds these days. I have persuaded 
Uday Shankar — ^who is in London — to give a performance for China. 
It is to be on the 31st Oct. 

I have not yet become a master of the art of lighting a fire which is 
a nuisance for there is no central heating and it is awfully cold 
sometimes, especially at night. 

This term is going to be very very busy, we are told & already we 
have been given work for next week. In December we have our Pass 
Mods exam. 

On Tuesday is the Matriculation ceremony, when we shall have to 
march in crocodile fasliion down the chief street of Oxford in our 
caps & gowns. I rather like the cap but the gown is idiotic. 

Lots of love, 


Somemlle College, 
14tli October, 1937 

Darlingest Papu, 

I do so wish you would shut yourself up in a tiny cottage up on a 
hiUtop 8c not [write] any arricles or give press interviews — just for a 
week or so. I am sure your work would not suffer, for you would be 
so much fi-esher to do it. 

I am quite settled down now and feel that I have lived in Somerville 
all nay life. My little room is looking considerably cosier and nicer 
and by the end of the term I hope it will improve tremendously. At 
the moment I am terribly in need of a good armchair — a really 
comfortable one. I have two chairs in my room: one is for the writing 
table, the other is a rocking chair which, besides being terribly ugly 



and uncomfortable, falls backwards when you sit on it! 

Life here is terribly fiill. They work us like slaves. Then there are 
tea parties 8c coffee parties and all kinds of meetings and concerts & 
what nots. I think I shall enjoy it very much — somehow just before I 
came I had my doubts about that! 

I went to a meeting on China last evening. One of the speakers 
was Prof Chang Feng-Chun of Nanhai University. He was awfully 
good: very dignified & restrained. Gilbert Murray^ also said a few 

Menon is coming up to speak at one of the Labour Club meetings 
on the 29th. 

With lots & lots of love & great hopes of your taking a good rest, 



Somerville College, 
17th October, 1937 

DarUng Papu, 

I have had a lovely day today. I worked solidly from nine thirty to 
one. After lunch I went out for a long walk in the fields — got back 
home by three thirty. Went to tea with H.A.L. Fisher.^ He is awfully 
nice and his wife is perfectly charming — I wonder if you have met 
her. I had a marvellous time. Then I had dinner with Mrs Rhys- 
Davis^ & the MaJHs executive — afterwards was the MaJHs meeting at 
which Mrs Rhys-Davis spoke. By the way, I do not remember whether 
in my last letter I told you that I have become the Women’s Secretary 
of the Majlis. Fortunately I have to do nothing at all — the proper 
Secretary does all the work. 

I am having rather a terrible time trying to sell tickets for the 
Uday Shankar performance. Undergrads can’t run down to London 
for the night whenever they feel like it — and the tickets I have are 
quite expensive. 

1 Gilbert Murray: British classical scholar. 

2 H.A L Fisher' British historian and politician. 

3 Caroline Augusta Foley Rhys-Davis: Buddhist scholar and wife of the orientahst, 
Thomas William Rhys-Davis 



I love Oxford. The so-called ‘relaxing’ atmosphere has so far had 
no effect on me — probably because I have much too much to do all 
the time. 

I am feeling so worried about you. Must you keep rushing about 
all the time? 

Lots & lots of love, 


Anand Bhaimi, 
20th October, 1937 


Your first letter^ from England has come, full of the excitement of 
going to College. I am afraid my memory of the day when I first went 
to Cambridge as a Fresher has rather faded, but still I remember 
something of the excitement and self-importance that accompanied 
it. But the novelty fades soon enough and we fall into the old rut. 

My visit to the Frontier was most interesting and even exhilarating. 
The pleasant and crisp climate contributed to this, but it was the 
psychological background that appealed to me. I liked the Frontier 
people — simple, childlike, brave and rather primitive. It was heartening 
to see their enthusiasm for the Congress and Indian freedom, and 
their discipline was astonishing. I spent only three days over there — 
three full days. One day in Peshawar, the second in Utmanzai, where 
Khan Abdul Ghaffar PChan has his home, and the third was largely 
taken up by a visit to the IChyber Pass. I loved standing on a hillock 
overlooking the pass, with Afghanistan stretching on one side beyond 
the pass, and on the other the wide plains of Flindustan. Facing me 
on a hilltop stood the remains of an ancient fortress built by Asoka." 
And aU around were dotted pickets and fortifications built by the 
British. The whole pageant of Indian history seemed to pass before 
my eyes, conquerors and invaders, pilgrims and traders and students; 

1. Refers to letter dated 10 October 1937 (No. 154). 

2 Asoka: one of the greatest emperors of India, he lived in the third century B.C. and 
consolidated the subcontinent of India into a single polity. He was inspired by 
Buddhism and is specially known for his renunciation of war. 



how many caravans had passed through that narrow defile into the 
plains of Hindustan right through the ages! What a wonderful gateway 
to India it was, how easy to defend against almost a world in arms. 
Surely there is no other country whose land frontier is so secure and 
difBcult of passage. The Himalayas make it impassable except for two 
or three difficult passes and the most frequented was the Khyber. And 
even this could be made a terror to the hostile intruder. Yet invading 
armies have passed through it again and again. But that was not nature’s 
fault. We suffered for our own weakness. 

An Afridi would pass us on the road, a rifle strung loosely from 
the shoulder. He would give the Pushto greeting which means: may 
you never be tired — a beautiful wish, whether you apply it to the 
journey through the mountains or to the far more difficult journey 
through life. The answer was; may good fortune attend you. 

Villagers gave us gram cliana and gur, also an enormous loaf of 
bread which was good enough for half a dozen persons. It was excellent 
bread, rather like shirmal} I was told that this was a small loaf and the 
big ones were a yard in diameter and two to three inches thick. 

We skirted the Frontier for many rmles and I was sorely tempted 
to cross over into the tribal territory. But this might have brought 
political complications and I wanted to avoid these. We saw the tribal 
villages, all surrounded by high mud walls and turrets with gun holes. 
They were like little fortresses. 

I am going tomorrow to Bijnor for an important election — a 
Muslim by-election. The Muslim League^ has been misbehaving and 
acting generally in a hysterical manner. It is a nuisance. If we win this 
election as we hope to, it will be an effective damper for these 

On my return from Bijnor I go off immediately to Calcutta for 
the A.I.C.C. meetings. These will last a week. Then beautiful Assam 
and the Surma Valley — another frontier of India, the north-eastern. 
So I shall be on the move till the imddle of November — my letters to 
you will be irregular. 

I have brought back from Peshawar two lovely pairs of chappals 
[sandals]. They are strong and comfortable and quite smart looking. 

1 . Sweet bread prepared on festive occasions. 

2 Muslim League: pobtical party which, under the leadership of Mohamed Ahjinnah, 
believed that the Mushms of India constituted a distinct nation. This led to the 
partition of India in 1947. > 



No one dare criticise my footwear now! 

Feroze has sent me a cable asking for a message for Uday Shankar’s 
performance. I am sending something for him by airmail. 

Bibi Amma has been unwell. 




Somerville College, 
21 St October, 1937 

Papu darling, 

I had a lovely time in Pans and Mme Morin introduced me to some 
very nice girls. I was five days in Paris & most of them were spent in 
the Exhibition. The only part I really enjoyed was the various art 
exliibitions and something which will make you very envious — The 
Palace of Discovery. It was absolutely marvellous. They have every 
scientific discovery & invention ever made & there are five guides 
who explain whatsoever you ask them. The first time I went to the P. 
of D. I was terribly impressed & interested but I am afraid there were 
so very many things that I did not understand. So in the afternoon I 
went again — this time having persuaded Sir C.V. Raman to come 
with us. And he made all the difference. 

I have fallen completely in love with Oxford. It was so difficult to 
take work seriously after years of not doing anything like this — ^but I 
am settling down now & find it easier to spend a whole morning 
solidly working. 

My tutors & the other dons who have anything to do with me are 
awfully nice. The Latin one, I hear, is an iceberg. But thank goodness 
I don’t go to her. I do Latin separately with a Mr Luce, who used to 
teach at Eton. He is as ancient as the Sphinx and terribly deaf. But 
explains things quite well, in spite of his false teeth. I go to him once 
a week. Somebody said the other day that Miss Darbyshire^ looked 
like a tea-cosy. I think the description suits her perfectly. 

My love to Dol Amma & the rest of the family. 

1 . Helen Darbyshire: principal of Somerville College. 

All my love, 




Somerville College, 
29th Octobei [1937] 

Darling Papu, 

I am so very glad that you went to the Frontier and were able to 
snatch a few hours out of your crowded programme to go to the 
Khyber Pass. Your letter took me across the land and sea and the 
many miles that lie between us . . . 

The Uday Shankar performance is tomorrow night. I have got 
late leave & am going down to London. 

The library here is very inadequate. There are so very many of us 
wanting the same books. I was just wondering that if we have got 
Stubbs’s^ CoustitKtioftal History at home, could you have it sent? I 
couldn’t find a second-hand one and the new ones are terribly 

Good luck in the election and in all you do — and as the Affidis 
say. May you never get tired. 

All my love, 


Somerville College, 

8th November [1937] 

Darling Papu, 

I am getting on fine. But I am afraid I am acquiring some of your bad 
habits. Yesterday I had a terribly full day. I had to go out in the 
morning — then at two there was a Labour study group. At three fifteen 
Basil Mathews^ and his wife came & took me to their house on Boar’s 
Hill for tea. I got back at six forty-five — at seven I was having supper 
with ‘The Darb’, [Miss Darbyshire] and at eight thirty I had to go to a 
Majlis meeting — for Krishna Menon was speaking. After that I had 
coffee with Krishna and got home at eleven fifteen p.m. — -just in time 

1 William Stubbs- British constitutional historian. 

2 Basil Mathews, scholar in the field of missionary movements. 



not to be locked out! My essay on the Evolution of Parliament had to 
be read at a class at ten this morning and until eleven fifteen last 
evening I had not even read about it! Well, I read until twelve forty- 
five and then wrote until three fifteen a.m. It was a job getting up this 
morning — I missed signing the register, as well as my breakfast, for I 
was ready only just in time for a lecture at ten a.m.! However I got 
Very Good for the essay! I .spent a delightful afternoon with Basil 
Mathews but did not like his wife much. 

Oh, and did I tell you — I went up to town last Thursday & lunched 
with Julian Huxley' & his wife — they are both absolutely charming. 
She is Swiss. 

Meanwhile P. Mods is rearing its ugly head in the not so distant 
future. I do hope I get through — otherwise it will be such a nuisance. 




Anand Bhaum, 
10th November, 1937 

My darling, 

I rejoice in your letters which tell me of your life full of activity and 
work and joy. Your written word brings innumerable pictures to my 
mind, a crowd of memories and visions of days gone by, and the 
sense of emptiness in this silent deserted house goes from me. For 
otherwise it is 

a lone house filled 
with the cricket’s call; 
and the scampering mouse 
in the hollow wall. 

I am afraid I cannot find Stubbs’s Constitutional History. Anyway an 
old edition is not much good. You had better buy a new copy, in spite 
of its exorbitant price, and not rely too much on the Somerville library. 
It is better to own textbooks so that you can mark them and use them 

1. Julian Huxley; British biologist, brother of the noveUst Aldous Huxley. 



when you like. I am sending you another book which is pretty well 
known. This is Taswell-Langmead s’ Constitutional History. 

Last week I sent you one of Tagore’s latest pictures, or rather a 
reproduction of it. This is somewhat remarkable in its own way. When 
he was recovering from his severe illness, one day he suddenly got up 
and started painting. He was hardly supposed to be fully conscious at 
that time. This was the picture he dashed off and it seems to be 
symbohcal of his return to light from the shadows. You see the light 
breaking through the dark forest of trees. On the back of the picture 
I have put the date — 15th Sept, 1937. 

Have you ever eaten persimmons? Have you even heard of them? 
This is a delightful fruit — a cross between a tomato and an apricot. 
Some kind-hearted individual whom I don’t know has been sending 
me parcels of it from the Kulu Valley. 

Your loving, 


Someiuilk College, 

14th November [1937] 

Darhng Papu, 

It IS your birthday today and I do not know where you ivill be rushing 
about Here in Oxford it is a lovely day, cold and frosty but with the 
sun smiling down on us. I am going to have a busy day — I usually do 
on a Sunday. 

16tli November 

Lord Zetland^ came to the Majhs last night and spoke on ‘Please try 
to understand us’. What a subject to have! He is not a good speaker & 
in any case there wasn’t much to say. There were some questions at 
the end — he dared not reply — so sat down after saying a couple of 
inaudible words. And all the time he looked so superior & smug — I 
could have done I don’t know what to him. 

1 Thomas Pitts Taswell-Langmead' scholar in the field of constitutional history and 

2 Lord Zetland Secretary of State for India, 1935—40. 



Do you remember that bump I got on my head in Singapore?^ 
Well, the bump itself has more or less disappeared but the pain hasn’t. 
I suddenly become aware of it when I am doing my hair or sleeping 
on that side. I don’t know whether it is worthwhile going to a doctor. 

Lots of love, 


Somerville College, 

22st November [1937] 

Darling Papu, 

I have just come from a most interesting lunch. It was at the home of 
a Mr & Mrs Spalding. I don’t quite know who they are except that 
they are connected with the dear old ‘Varsity’. He is terrifically 
interested in history & I have promised to show him the Glimpses. 
Then there was Prof. Wang, the lecturer in Chinese. I liked him awfully. 
He isn’t attached to any special College yet for he is very busy learning 
English. But he is a great scholar & conies from a family of scholars 
and is very interesting to talk to. Like most Chinese, he seemed to me 
very simple and straight-forward but with an immensity of depth — 
don’t know why people say that Orientals have intricate & complicated 

Gurudev’s painting — or rather the copy of it — has just arrived. It 
is beautiful and so very expressive. Thank you for sending it. 

Next Sunday at the Majlis we are having Palme Dutt. He is going 
to speak on ‘Why we understand the British Govt, too well’. It is 
going to be a sort of answer to Lord Zetland. 

All my love, 

1 . Indira visited Singapore in the course of a trip to Burma and Malaya taken with her 
father in 1937. 




Somerville College, 

25th November [1937] 

Darling Papu, 

I am afraid this is going to be another of my ‘rush’ notes. 

One evening, I went round the shops and restaurants in connection 
with [the] Japanese Boycott. We have asked all the restaurants to put 
up a petition signed by ten dons — ^including Gilbert Murray. And at 
the shops we want to put up enormous posters saying, ‘WE SELL 
NO JAPANESE GOODS’. Of course it is terribly difficult. Jap goods 
are so dashed cheap. In fact if the boycott were at all successful, 
Woolworth’s would have to close down altogether and other cheap 
shops, such as Marks & Spencer, would lose terrifically. 

Laski is speaking at the Labour Club tonight. I should have liked 
to go but in a moment of forgetfulness I accepted an invitation to go 
to a concert tomght — I shouldn’t really grumble because it is a very 
good concert — Roy Henderson — and good concerts are much rarer 
than speakers like Laski! 

Tons of love, 


Somerville College, 
3rd Decembei [1937] 

Darhng Papu, 

I am feeling rather drawn towards the Honour School of P.P.E. — 
Politics, Philosophy & Economics — but being also tremendously 
interested in History, I just don’t know what to do. The work in P.P.E. 
will probably be too heavy for me. This is our History work: the 
whole of English History to 1914, including of course the history of 
the colonies, dependencies and the like. Then a General History 
paper — we can choose one period. 

Next there are general questions related to History & Political 
Thought. The fourth paper will be on PoUtical Science. Then there is 
French (or any other modern language) translation. We have also to 


choose a special subject from among the following; 

1) St Augustine; 2) The Third Crusade; 3) Medieval English 
Boroughs; 4) The Period of Edward I; 5) The Italian Renaissance; 6) 
The Protectorate and Restoration; 7) British India, 1772-1805; 8) The 
American Revolution; 9) The French Revolution; 10) British Colonial 
Policy, 1830-1860; 11) Political Economy; 12) Industrial Relations; 
13) Principles of Modern English Government, 1867-1931; 14) 
Military History and Strategy 

For my special subject I want to do No. 5, the Italian Renaissance — 
it will mean learning Italian & perhaps doing some Latin as well, but 
I think it is worth it. Do tell me what you think about it all . . . 

Lots of love, 


Ass am -Bengal Railway, 
On the way to Sylhet, 
4th December, 1937 

Darling Indu, 

My eight day’s tour of the valley of the Brahmaputra ended today 
and now I am going to the Surma Valley — Sylhet and Cachar. I have 
liked my visit to Assam. The uncommon mixture of semi-tropical 
scenery with a background of snow-covered mountains and a noble 
river is attractive. Much of my journeying has been done on the 
Brahmaputra and I have especially enjoyed sailing in a country boat. 

There are any number of backward tribal people near the frontier 
and some of them looked intelligent. I wish I had more time to give 
to them. The Assamese people ... are pleasant and likable. Gauhati, 
Tezpur, Silghat, Goalpara, North Lakhimpur, Jorhat, Goalhat, 
Dibrugarh, Tinsukhia, Digboi, Dum Duma — these are a few of the 
places I visited. Have you heard of them? A number of them were 
well situated on the banks of the Brahmaputra, and Tezpur, in addition, 
nesded at the foot of the hills. 

I am travelling in style — first class! But I get litde rest, as at every 
station — we stop at every station! — crowds come and fill the air with 
their slogans. They are mostly tea-garden coolies. In their poverty 
they give us some money for ‘Swaraj’ or for the Kamala Memorial 



Fund.^ I feel terribly small when these gifts are offered. At the last 
station some owner of a tea garden presented me with a case of the 
best Assam tea — enough to last us for a year or two. Also a dozen huge 
pineapples grown here. Some weavers gave me a piece of endi, the 
strong coarse Assam silk. So my luggage is increasing. 

I read m a Calcutta paper the other day a full report of the Majlis’ 
debate where Zetland came. It must have been an interesting function. 

Your loving, 


In haul, 
5th Deceiiibci [1937] 

[Darling Indu] 

1 am concerned about your headache. I think it would be as well to 
consult a doctor. I don’t suppose any medication will do much good 
but still expert advice is always desirable. You might consult the local 
doctor and later, when you go to London, a specialist, who will no 
doubt relieve you of a few guineas. 

Have you news of Madan Bhai? 



28th Decembei [1937] 

Darling Papu, 

After Mods were over, I was feeling so dreadfully tired and worn 
out — almost ill — and a few days’ stay in London did me no good So 
I packed up a rucksack, slung it on to my back, got into my ski trousers 
and big boots and here I am. 

When I first arrived the snow was not too good but then it snowed 
all day & night over Christmas and Gosh what snow! I have never 
enjoyed skiing so much. 

1 After Kamala Nehru’s death, it was decided to open a hospital in her name in Anand 
Bhawan, with subscriptions from the public. 



I eat enormously and have gone up six pounds in the eight days 
that I have been here! Good work, isn’t it? 

30th December 

I went down to Innsbruck in the Austrian Tyrol yesterday. I must 
confess I was terribly disappointed. I did not find it half as beautiful 
as I had expected to do. The people were terribly grim looking — 
one somehow felt that it was a crime to laugh out aloud in the streets. 

My skiing has improved considerably since last year. I do wish you 
could see me conung down one of these terrific slopes or, better still, 
if you could be coming down it too with me. 

Ever your loving, 


4th January, 

Darlingest Papu, 

Garmisch seems so very far away. I wonder if I ever actually went 
there or whether I just dreamt it. 

Munich was a terrific rush and very tiring. I arrived there at about 
eleven a.m. on the 31st Dec. On the 1st Jan. the Deutsches Museum 
was open only from one o’clock to six. So in the morning I went to 
the Alte Pinakotheke in which there is a most marvellous collection 
of paintings, of Rubens, Van Dyck and Murillo — also Durer and many 
others. Opposite the museum is the museum library and in it was 
being held an anti-Jew exhibition. The entrance was free. It was widely 
advertised in every German city & we saw crowds going in to see it. 
At the entrance & in most of the advertisements were enormous 
pictures of a very ugly Jew holding a bag of money in one hand and 
the map of the U.S.S.R. & hammer & sickle in the other. The very 
sight of the picture made me sick. It was absolutely revolting. 

At the museum & other places also people like guides & postmen 
were very friendly and asked about Bapu & talked of how my ancestors 
& their own were the same — both being Aryans! 

All my love, 




7th January, 1938 

Darling Papu, 

There is tremendous agitation going on amongst the London Indians 
on the subject of Subhas Bose’s proposed visit to England. There are 
endless committee meetings at which nothing is ever decided. The 
reception committee itself has about fifty members and almost every 
one of them wanted to speak at the Bose meeting! With great difficulty 
it was decided that only three people should speak. This caused great 
discontent, for the names could not he decided upon — at last it was 
passed that there should be no speakers except Bose & Palme Dutt, 
who is to be chairman of the meeting! Meanwhile the English papers 
insist on printing the news that Bose has been seeing Mussolini and 
the Duke ofWindsor. Bose says he has not but does not contradict 
the news publicly — as a result some students beheve that he did have 
these interviews and this causes unnecessary opposition to Bose & 
the plans of the reception comnuttee. 

Lots of love, 


Anand Bhawan, 
9th January, 1938 

Darling Indu, 

News from Europe tells us that almost the whole Continent is m the 
grip of a cold wave. I have been wondering how you fared in South 
Germany where it must have been terribly cold. Probably this was 
good for winter sports. 

I was in Bombay last week for five days for the Working Committee 
meeting. It was warm there of course. Bapu was recuperating at Juhu 
and I went there twice. 

In Bombay I met Somerset Maugham,' the writer. Also Gunther, 

L Somerset Maugham’ English writer. 

• r.vo ALONr. I wo rooi.iiu H • 


tlic author of Inside Biropc, atici his wife.’ Last year Gunther published 
his diaries in Nash ‘s magazine — perhaps you saw them. He had met 
UK' two yeats ago in Loiidon and he had said in his d'ltiry tliat I had a 
ricli chocolate complexion exactly like Josephine Baker’s! The poor 
man was repeatedly reminded of this, much to his embarrassment. 



1 suppose you have met Subhas Bose in London. He will be declared 
elected to the Congress ITesidentship in another week or ten days. 


Atiaiid Blmum, 
lOih January, 1938 

Indu dear, 

Last night I wrote to you.- Within an hour or two of that Dol Amma 
had an unexpected paralytic attack. It was severe and after hcasy 
breathing all night, she expired early this morning. Fortunately she 
was not conscious all this time and so probably did not suffer. By a 
curious chance we w^ere all with her w'hen the attack came — Nan,^ 
Betty,'* Ranjit & myself. Nan was going to Lucknow she was just 
bidding goodbye to Mother. Even the children w'crc all in the house. 


17 ^ 

1 2th January [1938] 

Darling Papu, 

You will forgive me, I know, if I write only a few^ lines. What can one 

1. Frances Gunther: American journalist, wife ofjohn Gunther. 

2. Refers to letter dated 9 January 1938 (No 171). 

3. Refers toVij.ap Lakshmi Pandit. 

4. Refers to Krishna Huthcesing. 



say on such occasions? I have never been able to speak or to write 
when I feel deeply. But [with] these few Hnes I send you all my love 
and you know that my thoughts are with you. 

She was so very frail — ^perhaps we all expected this to happen in 
the very near future & yet sometimes one is not prepared even for the 
expected and the inevitable. The house will be empty without her 
and how we shall all miss that tiny figure silently sitting in the dining 
room or fussing around about the food and how much or rather how 
little everyone ate. 

How did it happen? And were you near her? 

All my love, Papu darling, and if thoughts mean anything at all, 
you will know that I am thinking of you all the time — I only wish I 
could be with you. 



Anand Bhawan, 
14th January, 1938 

Darling Indu, 

Four days ago I wrote to you a brief note.’ But that day was not to 
end before death again hovered over Anand Bhawan. Before we had 
recovered from one shock, another came and numbed us. Death is 
almost always an unwelcome visitor and yet it came as it should come — 
suddenly and in the fullness of time. I was always afraid that Dol 
Amma might be paralysed and linger on in pain and torment. 
Fortunately there was the briefest of pain, if any, and she fainted and 
became wholly unconscious right at the beginning. For nearly six 
hours she remained in this state, breathing heavily, and then quietly 
and peacefully passed away in the early morning at four forty-five 

We had spent a busy bustling day. Nan was going that night to 
Lucknow and Chand.Tara & Rita were following in the car the next 
morning. Betty & her children were leaving soon for Bombay. And 
so there was packing and arranging and talking, and I felt too tired to 
go to [the] office and remained at home most of the time. I played 

L Refers to letter dated 10 January 1938 (No. 172). 



with the children. There was more of a family atmosphere than I had 
experienced for a long time. Dol Amma was more active than usual 
and I noticed particularly that she was better than she had been. We 
sat down to dinner, a large family party, and Dol Amma and Bibi also 
sat there. We talked of old times and family affairs and told stories of 
each other. Then Nan went away to pack and prepare for departure. 
We all adjourned to Dol Amma’s room. She asked me about you — 
how you were — if I had heard from you recently — ^if I had written to 
you. I told her that I had written that very evening. ‘Did you send my 
love to her?’ she asked. I confessed that I had not specifically mentioned 
it but it was there of course, taken for granted. But she was not satisfied. 
She said she could not write herself and so I must not forget to send 
you always her love. I promised to do so. 

We all moved to Nan’s dressing room and sat there for a few 
minutes. It was about ten forty-five p.m. Nan said it was time for her 
to go and we all got up. Dol Amma got up with some difficulty firom 
a stool on which she had been sitting. She bent forward to embrace 
Nan and suddenly fell towards Nan. Nan and I took hold of her. We 
saw that all was not well and that something had happened. I asked 
her what the matter was but there was no answer. I took her gendy to 
her bedroom, partly leading her, partly almost carrying her. She tried 
to walk but was not very successful. We put her in bed and soon she 
was wholly unconscious. She started breathing hard. The doctor came 
and said it was a bad attack of paralysis and the brain was probably 
affected — cerebral haemorrhage. If so there was little hope. Anyway 
there was nothing to be done except to wait and see for the next few 
hours. Bibi and I were in her room all night and Nan and Betty were 
next door in Nan’s room, coming in frequendy to see how Mother 
was. At about four thirty a.m. the hard breatloing became slower and 
quieter. At four forty-five it was all over. That was exactly the time 
seven years ago when Dadu died. 

After the first shock Bibi worked hard at various arrangements. 
There were crowds of people coming. All business was suspended in 
the city and at midday the funeral procession started. On the insistence 
of people this took a long route, right through Katra and Chowk, on 
to the embankment and then to the Sangam. A vast, more or less silent 
crowd followed. 

We returned about four-thirty p.m. I learnt on return that Bibi, 
after finishing up the cleaning, etc., had felt unwell and had fainted. 
She was lying unconscious and was breathing in exactly the same way 


as Mother had done the night before. Still we thought that she was 
merely tired out. The doctor came and disillusioned us, telling us that 
Bibi was suffering from exactly the same trouble as Dol Amma. She 
did not regain consciousness. At four forty-five a.m. exactly, on 11th 
January she passed away. 

So within twenty-four hours we had two deaths in Anand Bhawan 
and though Death had triumphed, it seemed almost that it came at 
Bibi’s bidding. It was strange how peaceful both the faces were after 
death, especially Bibi’s. 

People have come to us in large numbers. And thousands of 
messages. And incessant activity has kept us moving and occupied 
during these three days. But this house feels strange and odd, and I 
find myself going unconsciously to Mother’s room to say goodnight 
to her or to ask her about something. 

One generation in our family has now gone completely, and I 
have become an elder, gradually fading off. 

It is tnela [fair] time and crowds of pilgrims are streaming into 
Anand Bhawan. The house remains but more and more it becomes a 
hollow-shell. So it will remain till a new spirit fills its empty rooms 
and verandahs. 

And so I shall keep my last promise to your grandmother and 
send you her love. But how can I convey in words the abundance and 
intensity of that love of hers for you? Or her love for her son which 
enveloped her and filled her. I know well that whatever love and 
affection may be in store for us in the future, and we have been 
fortunate in that respect in the past, neither of us will ever experience 
that full flood of unselfish and enveloping love that only a mother or 
a 'grandmother can give. 

But we must not be sorrowful for she died at the right time and as 
she should have done. For years now she was almost a wraith, weary 
of life. Death must have been a release to her. 







North-West Frontier Province, 
24th January, i938 


These four days in the Frontier have been full of interest and even 
some excitement. 

At Abbottabad a welcome gate consisting of pillars of snow was 
erected. I have had tremendous welcomes everywhere, including the 
welcome of the tribal people in the independent areas. One old Khan 
who had lost everything during the Civil Disobedience Movement 
and had his house burnt down by the military, gave me his warm 
ChitraF coat. It was an ancient, well-worn garment, not even clean — 
but it was the most precious thing he had and he gave it to me. It is no 
use to me, but the graciousness of the gift has made it very valuable. 

Today we motored from Peshawar to Kohat. On the way we passed 
through many miles of tribal territory inhabited by the Afridi. 

The Afridis gave us a welcoming salvo of gunfire before each village. 
We had to get down and speak to them and have tea and hard-boiled 
eggs. It was difficult to consume eggs every two hundred yards or so, 
yet one had to do it. 

One of my Pathan hosts has presented me with some handspun & 
handwoven pieces of cloth done by his womenfolk. One piece was 
for me, the other and the finer one for ‘Indira’! I thought of you at 
Oxford and how, whether you willed it or not, the burden of notoriety 
was already yours. And with that notoriety an abundance of affection 
and goodwill from numberless persons unknown to you. You cannot 
escape it or the responsibifity that it entails. 

Goodbye, my darling. 


1 . A pnncely state in North-West Frontier Province, known for its picturesque scenery. 




29th January, 1938 

Darling Indu, 

I have just come back from the Frontier — a few hours at Lahore cn 
route and now a few hours in Lucknow before I proceed to Allahabad. 

The cold wind and the hot sun have left their marks on my face. 
But I feel fit and well . . . My appetite, as I wrote to you, went up 
markedly and I consumed more meat than I have ever done. One of 
the most satisfying meals I have had was with the Afridis in the tribal 
territory. It consisted of diimha — lamb — roasted and thick bread 
somewhat resembling sliirinal. Even Upadhyaya relished it. 

I was presented with a lamb and a goat and one Afridi Khan even 
presented his son to ILhan Saheb and me. A bit of a handful! We told 
him to join the Kfrudai Khidmatgars (the Redshirts) and thus serve 
the country. These Redshirts were all over the place and sometimes 
lined the road for miles. 

Fine upstanding men and women they were all over the Frontier 
and bonny children but all very poor and shabby.There was no cringing 
about them but an open-hearted welcome and hospitality. 

I am so fascinated by these people that I want to get nearer to 
them and that can only be through their language — Pushtu. I have 
brought back primers & books in this. 

Abdul Ghaffar Khan was always addressed as Fakhr-e- Afghan — the 
pride of the Afghans. Sometimes they addressed me as Fakhr-c-Hind — 
the pride of India. Once there was ‘Jawaharlal Klian Zindabad’. 

The Redshirts used to dance sometimes and I was struck by the 
resemblance to Russian dancing. I realised the common origin from 
Central Asia. The Russian men s dancing is, I believe, derived from 
Cossack dancing. And this made me realise that in effect, geographically 
and partly culturally, I was in Central Asia. There is a vast difference 
between the Frontier people and the Punjabis. And yet there was 
definitely that link, that something, which binds the whole of India 
together. My mind wandered repeatedly to past times and to the 
great events that the Frontier had seen. To the caravans that had come 
through and across it through countless ages — to the Aryans and 
Scythians and Turks and Huns and Mughals who had marched into 
India and been largely absorbed by India. To the coming of Alexander 



and the Macedonians. I crossed the Indus almost at the very spot 
where Alexander is supposed to have crossed. 

I thought of the ancient times of the Mahabharat when Afghanistan 
was called Gandhara (from which Gandhari the mother of the 
Kauravas); of Asoka who has innumerable memorials all over the 
Frontier; of the Kushan Empire with its seat at Peshawar, the meeting 
place of the these great cultures; the Indians, the Chinese and the 
Western Asian mixed with Graeco-Romans. The cultural intercourse 
of ages came to my mind — how India gave her religion and art to the 
Far East, her science and mathematics to the Arab world. 

30th January 

I could not continue this letter in Lucknow. My night journey was an 
exciting one as vast numbers of pilgrims were travelling here for Mauni 
Amavasya viela which takes place tomorrow. I have never seen so 
many people jammed in a railway carriage. Within half an hour, at a 
wayside station, my compartment was suddenly invaded by about 
twenty or twenty-five persons. They were all Third-Class passengers 
but I did not have the heart to ask them to go. They were decent folk 
and we made firiends and travelled together for the rest of the night. 
They did everything in their powder not to disturb me, and I, selfish 
creature, spread out on my berth and tried to sleep while the others 
were closely seated on all the berths as well as the floor of the 

Do you remember, when you were here, there was much 
excitement over the abduction of Hindu women by the Waziris? When 
I was in Bannu in the Frontier Province recently I referred to these 
incidents. Unfortunate as they were, it was obvious that the motive 
behind was economic. These dwellers of the lone mountains have 
little to sustain them and for generations their chief occupation has 
been fighting each other or the British Govt. They try to make both 
ends meet by occasional raids and abductions of persons whom they 
hold up for ransom. They treat their captives courteously and well. 
They look upon the whole transaction as a purely business proposition. 
The policy of the British Govt, has kept them p^ackward] economically) 
educationally & culturally and has at the same time roused all their 
warlike instincts. A friendly approach and some planned attempt to 
meet their economic difficulties would go a long way to solve these 



problems. They are extraordinarily hospitable and susceptible to 
friendly overtures. 

As I was speaking to a vast audience at Bannu, which included 
many tribesmen, suddenly you crept into my mind and I began talking 
of you. I have a daughter, I said, an only child, young in years, whom 
I have sent abroad for her education. From her childhood upwards I 
have tried to make her self-reHant, so that she might be able to take 
care of herself wherever she might be and face every contingency 
with courage and conhdence. I sent her to distant schools in various 
parts of India to enable her to get to know our countrymen better 
and have some knowledge of their languages. For I wanted her, as I 
want all others, to reahse the diversity and at the same time the unity 
of this land of ours. I have sent her abroad so that she may get to 
know something of the wide world and its problems and so fit herself 
for the service of India and her people. I should hke aU young men 
and women m India to train themselves m some such way and thus 
become true and efficient soldiers of freedom. So I spoke. And then 
I said that if she happened to come to the Frontier Territory, as I 
hoped she would, I would unhesitatingly and wilhngly agree to her 
going toWaziristan unaccompanied, for I was confident that she could 
look after herself and I was equally confident that the Waziris would 
welcome her and treat her as a firiend and a guest. 

After the meeting a man from Waziristan came to me, apparently 
thinking that you were on the point of starting for that country, and 
offered his services to accompany you and serve you during your 

From Bannu we went to Dera Ismail Khan, passing on the way big 
hills of soUd rock salt. We saw the mining and brought away some 
beautiful crystals of salt. These salt hills, nature’s gift to man, are closely 
guarded by the Govt, of India so as to preserve their salt monopoly. 
And the poor people round about even lack for salt. Such is the 
modern world. 






Sonterifille College, 
1st February [1938\ 

Darling Papu, 

The world goes on as usual, and in spite of the wars and so very many 
happenings the papers can still devote columns to the birth of a royal 

The problem of the Basque children is a serious one. Unless 
something can be done about them, they will be sent back to Spain, 
for the government is not helping in any way. We — that is Somerville 
College — have adopted two children — this means that each one of 
us has to pay 3d a week — about 2 sh a term. 

Malaviyaji’s rejuvenation^ is most amusing. I’m longing to see what 
he looks like — how did he get such a marvellous idea anyway? 

The recent raid on Valencia has made me very anxious about Madan 
Bhai.^ I had a letter from him some time ago. He says he is coming to 
London at the end of spring. 

With lots of love, 


Somerville College, 
4th February, 1938 

Darling Papu, 

I am so glad that you were able to spend a few days in the N.WF.P. 
How vast and interesting and how very beautiful is our country. How 
different is the climate, the scenery, how very different the people and 
their customs in each part. Yet so few of us have the time or the means 
to break through the narrow walls of daily routine that enclose our 
lives, to get to know this immense space of land that is India, to enjoy 

1. Princess Beatrix, eldest daughter of the then Princess Juhana (later Queen) and 
Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands, now Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands. 

2. Madan Mohan Malaviya; nationalist leader and educationalist. He underwent the 
Kaya fCn/pa, an Ayurvedic method of rejuvenation lasting forty days in January 1938. 

3. Dr Madan Atal was on a medical mission in Spain. 



her loveliness and to make friends with our fellow countrymen who 
speak a tongue and think thoughts that are not our own. How I wish 
I were with you as you spread the magic message of freedom from 
one distant corner to another. 

Last Wednesday I went to supper with the Thompsons. Mrs 
Thompson was brought up in Syria, where she still owns a house and 
often goes there. She was very interested in an Arab girl at Somerville 
and wanted me to bring her to her house. We had quite an interesting 
evening although Edward Thompson and I almost came to a quarrel 
several times. He is so dreadfully pessimistic. 

Well, Papu darling — Au revoir (whenever will it be?) and lots and 
lots of love. 

Your loving, 


Dist Hamirpur UP., 
7th February, 1938 


Here I am in a remote rural area in the U.P. 

A district conference is being held here. It is now all the fashion to 
hold our conferences in villages and this experiment, started at Faizpur 
last year, has succeeded wonderfully. Vast crowds roll up and the whole 
atmosphere is that of rural India, so different from our towns. 

Successful as these conferences are, they are not unmixed blessings 
for the villagers. A large area is occupied, crops have to be cut down 
(with compensation), and, what is worse, their neighbouring fields 
get spoilt. Thousands of people come by bullock-cart and the bullocks 
graze about & consume the crops. 

I have just been for a midnight stroll in the grounds here.Thousands 
of people sleeping on the ground in the open — some with quilts 
lihaf, most with cotton sheets only to cover them. BuUock-carts parked 
all over the place. Scores of new shops put up temporarily. Some 
amusements — a theatre, even a cinema! The little village blossoms 
out as a town almost. 

Haripura of course is going to do this on a grand scale. Under 
Nandalal Bose’s direction an artistic town of huts is growing up, with 


• TWO alone, two together • 

many of the modern conveniences — water supply, proper roads; 
electric lighting, sanitation, organised food supply, etc. 

8th February 

This is Bundelkhand and the Bundelkhandis are a sturdy lot of people. 
It is a poor country, hilly and stony and lacking water. The women 
here wear huge rings round their ankles — silver or of cheaper stuff, 
usually the latter. These vary in weight from a pound to ten pounds 
each. Imagine having to wear these and having to walk and run about 
with diem! They are not only heavy but also broad so that the feet 
have to be kept fairly wide apart. They tinkle when the women walk; 
it is a pleasant sound. 

The more I see of village women the more I like their figures as 
compared to town women. Perhaps this is so because they work hard. 
But the ideal exercise for learning poise and the way to walk is to 
walk with a jar of water on the head. Almost every woman in the 
villages here has to do this daily and often several times a day. I have 
seen women with three earthen pots — ghare — one on top of the other, 
balanced on the head, walking unconcernedly along. Occasionally 
they would take an additional one under the arm. 

Your loving, 


Sonicruille College, 
8 til February, 1938 

Darling Papu, 

Thanks enormously for the cheque for ffiQ. I don’t know why you 
spoil me so much — I’m sure I don’t deserve it. I don’t know how I 
manage to spend such a lot either — for I don’t seem to buy anything 
except books and they are rather an expensive item. Then it is so 
difficult not to contribute to the fund for Spanish medical relief & for 
the Chinese one, the fund for the International Brigade in Spain and 
for the upkeep of the Basque children! However ^30 might last me 

You make the Frontier people sound so attractive and through 
your description I felt — almost — as if I had accompanied you on your 



tour and had met these brave people and had enjoyed their dancing 
and their beautiful scenery. 

In one of my letters, I think, I mentioned a Mr Radice who was a 
commissioner or some such thing in the U.P. His sister — a very 
charming person — is up at Somerville. I had tea with her one day 
and then she said that her people would like to meet me. So last 
Saturday we took the tram to her home — ^it is in a tiny village quite 
near Oxford. This was my first visit to a proper English home and I 
loved it. Mr & Mrs Radice were out in India for the twenty-five years 
necessary in the Civil Service. Then they wandered round the 
Continent and about three years ago they settled in Coomb Halt — it 
isn’t big enough to have a real station. They have a very typically 
English house — rather old with cobbled pavement floor, etc., and a 
tiny garden which had httle snowdrops scattered all over the place. 1 
had lunch there and then came back to Oxford. They have rather an 
interesting ancestor. Mr Radice’s grandfather was an Italian (hence 
the name) who was one of the leaders of the Itahan revolt of 1820. 
With five others he was sentenced to death — three of them managed 
to escape and came and settled in England. And m the corridor of the 
Radices’ home they have a copy of the death warrant framed and 
hanging on the wall! The present Mr Radice Senior is an enthusiastic 
pacifist! He is very proud of this fact — in the whole of his twenty-five 
years’ service in India he never once had to use the police or the 
mihtary m any riot or other disorder. He says he just went and sat 
down and talked and everything was all right. 

Some time last week I had a letter from a Mr Vaidya, written on 
behalf of the News Chronicle. He said that India was celebrating 7th 
Feb. as Gaidilu Rani* day and that on that date he was issuing an 
appeal for the release of Indian women political prisoners in the News 
Chronicle. The N. Chwnicle was also publishing Gaidilu’s story. And 
would I please send them a few lines? Well, I did — but there is no 
sign of anything about India or her political prisoners in the News 
Chronicle of the 7th or in the Star which is the N.C.'s evening paper. 
Nor have I heard any more from the mysterious Mr Vaidya. 

With my love, 

1 Rani Gaidilu Naga freedom fighter who was inspired by Mahatma Gandhi. 




SomcrvHle College, 

11th February, 1938 

Darling Papu, 

1 went to hear Krcisler, the famous violinist, the other day. He was 
gloiious. The hall was packed full — all Oxford was there and I’m so 
glad I didn’t miss it. He played two great favourites of mine, a piece of 
Bach’s and Mozart’s Rondo in G Major. 1 just shut my eyes and forgot 
everything except that heavenly music — even the memory of it thrills 
me. It seemed almost an insult to clap after his playing but if we 
hadn’t, he would not have given us any encores. I didn’t know I liked 
music — like is hardly the word, but still. In fact he in.spired me so 
much that I felt like starting my violin all over again. But of course 
there isn’t any time. 

If the world can still produce such harmony and melody, there 
must be some hope for us! 

Lots of love, 
Ever your own, 


Somerville College, 

22nd Febniar]', 1938 

Darhng Papu, 

Madan Bhai is back from Spain. He came up to Oxford last Saturday. 
On Sunday I took him to our Majlis study group, when he spoke of 
his experiences in Spain and in the afternoon he left for he had to 
address the London Majlis. He has grown considerably thinner & his 
old clothes hardly fit him. It was interesting talking to him — ^and some 
of his stories were too horrible to hear. He badly needs a rest, for his 
nerves are shaken — he would get a start almost every time a car made 
a certain kind of noise and he couldn’t quite forget the air raids. He is 
completely out of touch with Indian affairs for he hasn’t seen a single 
paper for the past year. 



This week Anthony Eden is front-page news.^ His resignation 
was the best thing that has happened in the National Govt, for some 
time. And it has increased his popularity immensely. As for the 
government, heaven knows what will happen Avith HaHfax^ as Foreign 
Secretary. He seems to me to be too much the perfect Enghsh country 
gentleman, firmly believing in the tragedy that must accompany 
socialism, to reahse the real harm that Hider & MussoHm can do & 
will do to England — as for the rest of the world, he doesn’t care about 

Lots of love, darhng, 


Somerville College, 

24th February [1938] 

Darhng Papu, 

Besides sending telegrams of support to Eden & of condemnation to 
Halifax, Oxford is busy with a China Week. We have opened a tiny 
China shop, where students & other helpers sell things — Chinese 
and otherwise — ^in aid of China. There is an absolute craze for China 
posters these days & some of them are remarkably good. I have one 
which I want to hang up in my room but it is a bit too big. It shows a 
very beautiful peasant foot clad in a string sandal about to tread on a 
swastika, which is already cracking. 

In London today the China-India committee is observing China 
Day. In the afternoon there is to be a poster parade & meeting. 

The Enghsh papers are silent on Indian affairs. I haven’t the vaguest 
idea what is happening. Menon sent me copies of the telegram that 
you & Bose sent to the India League & of your statement, or report as 
you call it, to the Subjects Committee.^ 

I do hope all this trouble won’t come in the way of your trip to 

L Anthony Eden resigned as Foreign Secretary in protest at Neville Chamberlain’s 
appeasement policies 

2- Lord Halifax (later Earl)-Viceroy of India, 1926-31, Foreign Secretary, 1938-40. 

3 Two days before every plenary session of the Congress, the members of the All-India 
Congress Comrmttee met as the Subjects Committee to frame the session’s agenda 



Europe in the summer. 1 am so looking forward to it. 

With lots & lots of love, 


Someruille College, 
1s( March, 1938 

Darling Papu, 

Last Sunday was one of the best evenings in the history of the Majlis — 
at least as far as I have known it. Prof. C.E.M. Joad^ & Prof. 
Radhakrishnam spoke on ‘Religion in the West’. They are both really 
good speakers and it was absolutely grand. I am going to tea with 
Prof. Radhakrishnan on Sunday. 

It was a glorious day today. I have discovered a new flower, 
‘Forsythia’, named after a Scotchman Forsytlr^ who first found it. It is 
one of the first spring flowers and perfectly lovely. 

With lots of love, 


2nd March, 1938 

Darling Indu, 

I intend having my fortnight at Khali'’ soon — ^probably from the 10th 
to the 25th March — and I expect to return to the plains bursting with 

About my going to Europe everything is vague and uncertain, 
except my desire to go there and see y^ou. By the time I have decided 
finally there will probably be no berth left! But that is a minor matter 
and is not likely to keep me back. 

1. C.E.M Joad: British philosopher and author. 

2. Dr S Radhakrishnan: philosopher, later President of India, 1962-67. 

3. William Forsyth; Brirish botanist and gardener. 

4. A place in the Almora Hills in Uttaranchal where Ranjit Pandit owned a house. 



[An] unusual experience in Bombay was a visit to Elephanta.^ 
Long long ago I had gone there when I was a child and I had forgotten 
all about it. Taken as a whole I was disappointed in the caves — I 
expected a greater richness and variety. There were three or four fine 
figures — a bashful Parvati on her wedding day and some dwarpaJs. 
But the Trimurti was magnificent and overpowering. That head with 
the wisdom and thought of ages behind it, ascetic and yet so 
sophisticated and full of the knowledge of life, unattached and 
unentangled and yet enveloping all that came within its ken, calm and 
with an astonishing strength. I thought of the Rock of Ages, how 
appropriate in a way it was; but that too only described one aspect of 
it. My mind wandered to the sculptors who had wrought this wondrous 
thing in ages past, seemingly with their hands but really with the 
genius which filled their minds. How long did it take them? Was it 
the work of one generation or more? As I stood there gazing in 
wonderment 1 felt very trivial and commonplace before this majesty 
in stone. 

Your loving, 


Almora U.R, 
Kmiiaon Hills, 
lUh March, 1938 

Darling Indu, 

So at last I have come to Khali. 

1 have been here just a day and a night and the weather has not 
been as good as it might be. But already I am enchanted with the 
place. I like the situation of the house on a hilltop. To tlie east and 
west there are deep valleys winding away with streaks of water shining 
in the sunlight. To the north-east there is Binsar Hill dominating the 
neighbourhood. To the north there is the snow range which I have 

1 • Oephanta is .in island near Bombay. It contains cave temples belonging to the ninth 
century. One of the most famous sculptures there is theTrimurn (meamngthe three 
images), depicting the three-headed Shiva 



not seen yet. The house itself is a solid, neatly built structure, not very 
big but big enough for half a dozen persons to live in comfort. There 
are plenty of small cottages and outhouses. Round about are stately 
deodars and pines and oak trees and two magnificent eucalyptus trees. 
I had never seen such huge eucalyptus trees before. Among the trees 
the pines predominate and they give the peculiar and pleasant pine 
smell. But for stateliness it is difficult to beat the deodar and the 
whisper of the wind as it passes through them is extraordinarily 

Ranjit has worked hard here during the past two years and more. 
It was jungle when he came and the house was full of bats and hardly 
habitable. There was lack of water. 

Now the jungle has been cleared off and a farm and orchard have 
taken their place. There is prospect of green fields with the growing 
crops swaying gracefirUy in the wind. Hundreds offimit trees are dotted 
about and there must be dozens of varieties of good firuits.The peach 
flowers are a mass of purple or rather mauve. Little buds are peeping 
out of the other fruit trees and probably within two or three weeks 
they will also be in full bloom. And in the summer they will have 
ripe rich fi’uit hanging in abundance from their branches. There will 
be apples and pears, peaches and apricots, oranges and tangerines, 
grapes and cherries, plums & mulberries, strawberries and raspberries, 
pomeloes and pomegranates, walnuts and almonds, chestnuts and 
persimmons — ^what a list! 

The farm contains wheat, barley, oats, rice, Indian corn, bajra, 
peanuts, moong pliali [groundnuts] and some varieties of local grains. 

Of the flowers I shall not give a list. Apart firom the ordinary annuals 
there are special varieties of rose creepers, wistarias, Kashmir varieties 
of lilac and dahlias and gladioli and iris and daffodils Sc wallflowers. 
The daffodils are out now and put up a brave show. The acacias are 
also in full bloom. 

Among the new trees Ranjit has planted Kashmir chenars and 

It is fascinating to go round the garden and farm with Ranjit. He 
takes a personal and individual interest in almost each tree and 
flowering plant. He tends it and watches it grow like a child. I 
remembered what vast difference it makes if one personally takes 
this interest in a garden. In Almora prison every plant was a firiend of 
mine whose fortunes I followed with a certain degree of excitement. 
It was a great thing to see the new buds shoot forth and peep out into 



a new world.They had their own way of looking round, just as human 
babies have. Some were bright and alert, some quite impish, some 
dull. Every morning and evening I visited every plant and noted the 
changes that were taking place and I knew exactly the number of 
flowers even that each plant had. 

There is another aspect of Khali which Ranjit has developed.Wool- 
spinning has been organised and a number of persons sit here all day, 
spinning away. About a hundred of them in the surrounding villages 
take the wool to their homes to spin and bring it back. There is fine 
spinning and I see no reason why good pashminas should not be 
made here. Soon weaving will begin. The local govt, has taken over 
charge of this spinning & weaving. 

A school for children is in prospect. 

Then there is bee-keeping and we get good honey, and cattle and 
a poultry farm. 

Altogether this is an enchanting place with any number of pleasant 
walks under the pines and excursions to places nearby — ^Binsar is a 
famous place for its view of the snows and this is only two and a half 
miles from here. A longer excursion is to the Pindari glacier — six 
days’ easy march. Even Kailas and Mansarovar seem easy of access. 

1 have told you all about Khali now — or a great deal about it. 
Enough at least to make you want to come here. Of course we shall 
come together some day. 

Your loving, 


Ahnora U.P., 
15th March, 1938 

Darling Indu, 

Lying in the sun here, imbibing Avarmth and energy, I allow my mind 
to wander. I can afford to think of other matters and to dream a httle. 
So I evolved plans of your meeting me at my landing place — ^Venice 
or Genoa. From there we might go to Vienna and then, why not? 
Budapest. Having gone thus far it seemed a pity not to go a few steps 
further to Istanbul. But it was rather far. Anyway Prague was indicated 



and from there to Munich to have another look at the Deutsches 
Museum. To Switzerland then & Paris & England. It was pleasant to 
form these airy programmes. Another bright idea struck me. Why 
should I not return to India via Russia, Tadjikistan and Afghanistan! 

Foohsh fancies! Even in this remote place news has reached of 
Hider’s coup in Austria^ and all my peace and quiet have vanished 
and the relaxation given place to tension. Is it war? Or if not right 
now, when "will it begin and drown the world in blood and ruins? 
What win happen to you and me when this comes? For aught I know 
the fatal step might have been taken. But whether it has been taken 
already or not, we live on the brink of it, and the making of programmes 
seems folly. I suppose I shall not know till the last few days definitely 
whether I am going to Europe. 

All my love, 
Your loving, 

1 Chalcot Crescent, 
Regents Park Road, 
2nd April, 1938 

Darling Papu, 

I am told that some Indian papers have printed the date of your 
departure from India as 1st June. I do not know how far this is true, 
for you have not written anything definite either to me or to Krishna 
Menon. Gosh! I am looking forward to seeing you. 

Today was the great Varsity Boat Race. What tremendous excitement 
there is over such events! I had thought of staying at home and just 
listening on the radio — ^for the progress of the crews is broadcast by a 
man following the boats in a motor boat. But the Mitchisons^ live 
right on the river & have one of the best views of the race firom their 
roof. They asked me to come & have a look — and tonight I am going 
there to dinner with Krishna. I met quite a lot of interesting people 

1. On 1 1 March 1938 Hitler ordered German troops to cross the Austrian border and 
two days later the Austrian Government declared Austria part of the German Reich. 

2. Naomi Mitchison and her husband. She was a sister ofJ.B.S. Haldane, and an author 
in her own right. 



there. The race was exciting — in spite of losing the toss we won by 
two and a half lengths! 

With lots of love. 
Your loving, 


Somemlle College, 
23rd April, 1938 

Darling Papu, 

I haven’t been able to write to you for sometime because my eyes had 
been giving trouble. I went to an oculist and got them tested and have 
now landed myself with specs. Fortunately I have only to wear them 
for reading & other close work & not all the time . . . 

I have been seeing Krishna about your trip. The only thing that is 
worrying me is your intention of staying with Lothian^ — and please 
don’t think that it has anything to do with what Krishna thinks of 
him — Lothian is not just another Conservative. He is a very prominent 
member of the ‘Cliveden Set’,“ the set that forced Eden to resign and 
the set that is conmionly known as ‘Hitler’s friends in Britain’. He is 
a thorough Fascist & doesn’t make any bones , about it. Your staying 
vath him would amount to the same as if you spent a weekend wdth 
Hitler himself or with Mussolini. It would create a terribcally bad 
impre.ssion on all people in this country who are even slighdy ‘left’ & 
who sympathise wth India & the Congress. So please do tliink it over. 

I am afraid I feel very strongly on the point and even if you do 
go — Lord Lothian will have to excuse me. I do hope you will 
reconsider the matter and change your mind about it. 

In Mods I failed in Latin — this means taking just the Latin at the 
end of the term — on the 20th or the 21st June. So I shall not be able 
to get away before that date. 

With lots of love, 

1- Hiihp Henry, 1 1th Marquis of Lothian: British diplomat and statesman 
— An influential British group, including Lord Lothian, which supported the policy of 
appeasement ofNazi Germany' in the late 1930s.This group used to meet at Cliveden, 
the country home of Lord and Lady Aston. 




24th April, 1938 

Darling Indu, 

I have now decided to sail from Bombay on 2nd June by the Lloyd 
Triestino Biancamano, which should reach Genoa about the 12th June 
or thereabouts. 

When I arrive I suppose you will be stiU at Oxford. You need not 
trouble to come to the Continent to meet me. If you can manage it, 
you can come to London. I should like to go to Oxford before your 
term ends to see your rooms, etc., meet Miss Darbyshire & perhaps 
some others. So my first few days after arrival in London should be 
kept free for this. I have asked Krishna Menon to draw up my 
programme in consultation with you. There may be some weekend 
visits — Stafford Cripps,^ Lothians. I think both of them should be 

Your loving, 


Anand Bhawan, 
30th April, 1938 

Indu darling. 

Your letter of the 23rd^ has just come. 

Latin seems to be your weak spot. It is a nuisance to have to carry 
on with it and I hope that after Mods are done with finally you will 
have no more Latin examinations. 

I am not surprised at your feeling strongly about Lothian. I feel 
more or less the same way. I know about the Cliveden Set and Lothian’s 
pro-Fascist and pro-Hitler activities. I think they are dangerous. But 
still after careful consideration I decided to accept his invitation. In 
effect I had done so over two years ago and I had repeated my 

1. Sir (Richard) StafFord Cripps: British Labour leader. 

2. Refers to letter dated 23 April 1938 (No. 189). 



acceptance later. It is a long-standing promise and I do not want to 
break it. But I would have refused in spite of that old promise if I had 
been convinced that it was the ■wrong thing for me to do. I happen to 
be something more than a prominent leader of a group or party. I 
have a special position in India and a certain international status. I 
have to function as such whatever my personal likes or dislikes might 
be. If anybody thinks that by my visiting Lothian I am betraying my 
cause, or adding to Lothian’s prestige, or tarnishing my o'wn reputation, 
I cannot help it. I happen to know something about my work and I 
am not unacquainted "with international affairs. I have to judge what I 
should do and should not do, after consulting others of course. And I 
am quite clear in my own mind that I cannot say no to Lothian so far 
as accepting his invitation is concerned. If I am so weak as to be 
influenced by him then I am not much good anyway. It may be that I 
am in a stronger position to counter him later. I feel therefore that I 
should accept. Indeed I have done so already. I shall be sorry if you 
are unable to accompany me. 

I have hastened to answer your letter as I wanted to teU you how I 
felt about this matter. 

Your loving, 


Srinagar {Garhwat), 
4th May, i938 

Darling Indu, 

Here we are — Nan, Raja and I — not far, so far as the map goes, from 
the rest of the world and yet cut off from it to an extraordinary degree. 

We had a good flight following the course of the Ganga and the 
Alaknanda. We went to Kedarnath first and went fairly near to the 
snowy peaks and then returned. Then Badrinath which was grander. 
We did not and could not descend, nor did we actually see the temples. 
I ■was not very interested in them. The high peaks going up to 23,000 
feet attracted me. We returned to a place called Gochar which is the 
nearest landing ground to Badrinath — it is five or six days’ journey 
by road. At Gochar we had a meeting and addresses and food, spending 
nearly three hours there. And then back by plane to Hardwar. In the 



course of a few hours we had flown about 270 miles and done a 
journey which on foot (and there is no other way) takes five weeks. 
The difference was a measure of the gap between the new world and 
the old. 

On return to Hardwar we drew up our programme afresh and left 
by cars for Devaprayag, a journey of fifty-seven miles by a very tortuous 
mountain road. We reached there at dusk and spent the night there in 
a panda’s house, which was not bad and was beautifully situated on a 
high precipice overhanging the Alaknanda. What is the Alaknanda? 
You will ask, ignorant one. I was myself rather vague on the subject 
till a day or two ago. Well I shall tell you. At Devaprayag two rivers 
meet — the Bhagirathi and the Alaknanda — and both together are then 
called Ganga. The real Ganga so named, starts from Devaprayag from 
where it goes down to Rishikesh and Hardwar and beyond. Both are 
thus the Ganga in a sense, but usually the Bhagirathi is considered the 
Ganga proper and this comes from Gangotri, the source of the Ganga. 

This morning I had a dip in the Alaknanda at Devaprayag. The 
current of the Alaknanda (and even more so of the Bhagiratlii) was so 
strong and the stones so slippery that it was not possible to go more 
than a few feet firom the bank. But even so the water was delightfully 
cold and refi-eshing. 

This morning we started from Devaprayag on ponies and rode 
about nineteen miles. It was fairly hot going and we were rather tired 
at the end of it. Almost right through we followed the course of the 
Alaknanda. Many pilgrims, looking tired and footsore, were tradging 
away to Badrinath, with the prospect of another month’s journey 
before them. Our bridle path was a good one and a pleasant and 
sometimes heavy scent of jasmine hung along it. 

We reached here soon after noon, long before our luggage. 
Everybody here has got one major desire — to have a motor road 
connecting Srinagar with the outside world, a very legitimate wish. 
Another wish, rapidly taking form and entirely right, is to develop 
electric power. In a hill country with numerous rivers and waterfalls 
this is the obvious thing but our governments have never thought 
along these lines. They only make roads and think of electricity for 
the hill stations where the officials go to. And because officials seldom 
come this way this poor spread-out district of the U.P., bordering on 
Tibet, has been grossly neglected. 

When I go back from here I shall add yet another picture to the 
gallery in my mind — that of Garhwal, poor and neglected but 



full of great possibilities, if scientifically tackled. What an enormous 
number of things we have to do in India when once we get going. 

Your loving, 


Somerville College, 
6th May, 1938 

Darling Papu, 

. . . Darling, I did not for a moment presume to advise you on what to 
do or to suggest that you had not been following Lothian’s tactics — of 
course you are the only person who can decide what is the best thing 
to do. I was only stating my own opinion on the matter. And, 1 am 
afraid, it is still unchanged. I shall hate being away from you for even 
a couple of days but I don’t think I could bear to stay with Lothian. 
On the other hand I don’t want to seem rude to Lothian so I think 
the best thing for me to do in the circumstances would be to get 
myself invited by some friends for the very weekend on which you 
will be at Lothian’s. 

Krishna says that he has written to you about your visiting Spain. I 
admit It would be good propaganda for Spain & for India. And I 
know that the element of risk & danger will appeal to you. But I 
admit I am feeling very worried about it — in fact the more I think of 
it the less I like it. 

All my love, 


15th May, 1938 

Darling Indu, 

In a moment of weakness I have decided to travel first by steamer. 
The cabins of the second class did not frighten me (except for the 
possibility of having an unwelcome companion) but the little deck 
space and want of other places where I could work in peace and 



relative comfort was unpleasant to contemplate. I want to do a good 
deal of revising and -writing on board. 

I cabled to Krishna that I was prepared to go to Spain. Of course 1 
must go if there is a chance to do so. I am surprised that you should 
grow soft over the idea. There was an equal or greater risk in the 
streets of Allahabad some days ago when I might conceivably have 
been stabbed during the days of communal trouble. 

About Lothian I have already written to you fully. You will of 
course do just what you think best. 

Your loving, 


Somerville College, 
10th June, 1938 

Darling Papu, 

This is just a hurried line to welcome you. I am feeling so excited 
about seeing you that I can hardly think of anything to say. 

Meanwhile this little note brings you all my love & good wishes. 
Oh, I am so looking forward to the 23rd! I do hope your English 
programme — or any programme for that matter — is [not] too heavy. 
So very many people want to see you & meet you. I tell everyone to 
approach Krishna. 

With aU my love — A Bientdt, 



14th June, 1938 


So we have arrived at last.^ This morning we reached Genoa^ — met 
Krishna Menon there — took the plane to Marseilles and spent the 

1 . In 1938 Jawaharlal travelled to Europe and Great Britain on an c.x'tended visit. Indira 
joined her father after his arrival in England. 



whole day without food or drink in search for various visas and 
endorsements for Spam. I have never had quite such a painful 
experience of how bureaucracy works. At last we got them all and 
returned worn out in the evening. We leave at four thirty a.m. 
tomorrow for Barcelona. How I wish you were with me. 

These few hues are just to send you my love. Don’t worry about 
your examination. You will do well in it. 

All my love. 
Your loving, 


iSth September, 1938 


The mormng papers are out already teUmg us of Chamberlain’s flight^ 
to Hitler. 

Look after yourself and get strong & well soon. Only the fit in 
mind & body can do much and there is big work ahead. 




Brentford Hospital,^ 
15th September, 1938 

Darhng Papu, 

I hope you had a good flight. And I wonder what sort of a journey 
that other eastbound traveller — Chamberlain — had; it might have an 
effect on how he talks to Hitler! I can’t help thinking that he is up to 

1- Neville Chamberlain flew to Berchtesgaden on 15 September 1938 to discuss a 
peace settlement with Hitler 

2 While traveUing in Europe with her father, Indira was taken ill in Hungary in the 
autumn of 1938. The ailment was diagnosed as pleurisy, which troubled her for 
several months. 



no good and will make a mess anyway as far as Czechoslovakia is 

I am more or less the same — have been feeling terribly tired all 
day. In the afternoon I was weighed — 85 lbs. 

I am going to miss you no end. 

Lots of love, 


[Brentford Hospital 
21st September [1938] 

Darhng Papu, 

I am feehng much better today. By Saturday I shall be up & about, for 
on Friday week I leave the hospital! . . . 

Isn’t the European situation perfecdy sickening? What can one say 
about it? Words seem so superfluous. I knew Chamberlain couldn’t 
be up to any good when he flew to Germany & I shouldn’t be 
surprised if our friend Nancy [Astor] was the originator of the bright 
idea. Czech propaganda in tliis country has been seriously neglected 
and it is taking time for the people to realise what actually has 
happened. But surely even now public opinion could force 
Chamberlain to call Parliament — ^it depends largely on Labour. But 
what can the British Parliament now do to save Czechoslovakia? 
Whether the proposals be accepted or not, whether there is war or 
not, there can be no peace for Czechoslovakia. 

All my love, 


10th December, 1938 

Darling Indu, 

I hope your packing has been completed without fatiguing you too 
much. I am afraid you have not had as much rest in Allahabad as we 
had hoped. You realise of course that you have undertaken a biggish 
job — to build up your health on an unshakeable foundation. I hope 



therefore that you will apply your will and determination to get fit 
rapidly and carry out a regime of rest, etc., in Almora. 

But remember in any event to 

(1) Take your temperature morning & evening. 

(2) Three hour’s rest in the afternoon and some rest before and 
after meals. 

(3) If you feel tired increase your rest. Also if there is any rise in 

Take care not to catch chills. Be well clad & covered . . .Take your 
weight before you leave Allahabad. 




In train, 
Bombay- Allahabad, 
22nd December, 1938 

Darling Indu, 

It IS long since I wrote to you — ten long days or even more. And yet 
every day I felt the urge as I thought of you, and words and phrases 
tumbled over each other in my mind. Several times I took pen in 
hand and was on the point of beginning, but bodily weariness overcame 
me and I said to myself: let it be tomorrow when I am firesher in body 
and spirit. 

But I am writing about myself when my mind hungers for news 
of you. I hope it is weU with you, and the sight and cold air of the 
snow-covered mountains is fiUing you -with vitality and strength. 

In Bombay I have been having a novel experience in presiding 
over the Planning Committee. It is a very mixed crew — ^big business, 
professors, economists, scientists, govt, ministers, and odd people. 
Whatever the Planning Committee might achieve, it will certainly 
add to my education, and though I grow old I have not lost the knack 
of learning and filling the enormous gaps in my mind. By the time I 
grow decrepit with age and weary of this business of life, when I am 
even more querulous and intolerant than I am now, and have lost all 
the strength and vitafity that I still possess, and bent-backed stumble 



forward painfully, supported by you, my dear, by that time, perhaps, 1 
shall be full of wisdom. But what will it avail me then when the 
power to act has gone? Si jeimesse savait; si vieillesse poiwaitl^ 

Many years ago I used to dream that when you grew up, you also 
would play a brave part in what is called public life in India, to shoulder 
this heavy burden, to help in putting brick upon brick in the building 
of the India of our dreams. And I wanted you to train and fit yourself in 
body and mind for this engrossing task. But I am not sure that I desire 
you to do this now, and to experience the heartache and the crushing of 
the spirit that this involves. For me there is no escape, no refuge, till the 
inevitable escape that comes to us all. But why should I encourage 
others who are dear to me to enter into the heartbreaking business? 

Your loving, 


15th April [1939] 

Darling Papu, 

This is just to send my love. Don’t worry about me, darling. I shall be 
all right. 

Jivraj^ came again this morning — -just to say how d’you do. 
Bharucha & he examined me on the 13th. I enclose a small note 
which he wrote in the way of a report. They advise my going to 
Switzerland or to France, since France would be easier to get out of. 

Dr Schacht^ is still busy being entertained by the big industrialists. 
He is trying hard to explain to them dc convince them that when 
Hitler called Indians ‘monkeys’ he did not mean Mr Ambalal Sarabhai'* 
& his son! 

I must go & feed now. So an rcvoir and aU all my love. 


Thank you very much for your letter. I .shall write from on board. 

1 . If only the young knew; if only the old could. 

2. Dr Jivraj Mehta: physician and nationalist. 

3. Hjalmar Schacht; Gcrnian financier. 

4 . Ambahil Sarabhai: industrialist and merchant of Ahmedabad. 



[S.S. Strathaird] 
18th April, 1939 

Darling Papu, 

So I have sailed after all!! I did hate leaving India & you this time. It 
has left a strange sort of emptiness inside me. But here I am and there 
IS no turning back. And indeed the fault is entirely mine, for mine 
was the decision to leave. It wouldn’t be so bad if I did not keep 
seeing your face — so sad, with something more than just sadness. 
Darling, don’t be so defeatist — no one can defeat you except yourself. 
You are so much above all the pettiness that is invading Indian poHtics. 

Travelling tourist is uncomfortable but much nicer than first. I 
have a two-berth cabin, which I share with a Kashmin-Punjabi dame 
who is married to a Bengah. She is very amusing. She talks & talks & 
talks from morn till night incessantly and without a break. It is fortunate 
that she does not mind who she is talking to, and stiU more fortunate 
that she requires no answers. 

With all aU my love — darling mine. 



Y.WC.A. Central Club, 
Great Russell Street, 
1st May, 1939 


Last night I was taking a snack somewhere in Belsize Park, when I 
ran into Mohan Kumaramangalam. He told me that Kabadi^ has just 
received a telegram saying that Subhas had resigned & Rajendra Babu 
elected in his stead. This is disturbing news. Whatever Subhas’s actual 
politics, he had come to be regarded as the leader of the ‘left’, so that 
his resignation seems to be a terrific setback to the socialist movement 
and great victory — one may almost call it personal — for VaUabhbhai. 
Anyway, we are at last out of the deadlock and even the wrong road 
may be better than not moving at all. 

L Sundar Kabadi, Indian journalist in Bntain 


• TWO AI.ONf, rwo TOr,I.'tHi;R • 

Much as I love London, 1 could never call it beautiful. But just 
now it is perfectly ugly. Do you remember the little black Eros in the 
middle of Piccadilly Circus? They have barricaded him and on the 
barricades are stuck enormous seven-foot posters; ‘We’ve got to be 
prepared.’ ‘National Service — Enrol now.’ ‘Have you done your duty?’ 
‘What are you doing for your country?’ In every room there are 
instructions for A.R.P. [Air Raid Precautions]. 

I had an enjoyable stay in Paris. The weather was none too good 
but I met some interesting people. Nanu is there now & so is 
Shankar — the Hindustan Times cartoonist. 

Have you met him? I think he is very nice. 

In spite of the weather, in spite of everything, spring is in the air. It 
sort of gives you an uplift. All over France & England the little \vild 
fragrant spring flowers arc covering the hillsides and the plains and 
the blossoms are out. Paris was full of my favourite flower — ^lilies of 
the valley — 'niugncf in French. Do you know them? They grow wild 
in sheltered woods, little snow-white bells, perfect in form and 
delicious perfume. They are the flowers of May. And there is a custom 
in France to give small bunches of them to one’s friends on May Day. 

The best thing I did in Paris was to go to a permanent exhibition 
of ‘The Nymphiades of Claude Monet’. Mile Bossenee, who was on 
the Strathaird with me, told me that I would find them beautiful. So 1 
asked Louise to take me to them. And now it is one of my most 
beautiful memories. Monet was one of the first of the Impressionist 
painters. He has painted only ponds and trees. The sheer beauty of 
them is breathtaking. His colours are perfect and he gives such an 
atmosphere of quiet and peaceful calm. I went there at the end of a 
tiring afternoon but witliin a few seconds my fatigue fell off me like 
an unwanted cloak, my eyes felt as if I had just washed them in soothing 
cold lotion and I came out into the outside world fresh enough to do 
anything. We missed you so very much. You would have found them 
beautiful. In spite of all these feverish preparations & scares, I still 
think that there will be no war. Nobody seems to agree with me! 

All my love to you, 
Your loving, 




12th May, 1939 

Darling Indu, 

It is a month today, is it not, since you left Allahabad and now you are 
many thousands of miles away. 

For the past week I have been so engrossed in Lucknow afiairs 
that I have almost forgotten Hitler, Mussolini and all their unholy 
tribe. I came here specially for the Shia-Sunni trouble.^ It has grown 
to enormous dimensions and nearly 8700 Shias are in prison and the 
bitterness between the two is something unbehevable. For this week 
I have spent long and exhausting hours, nearly all day and till far into 
the night, talking, discussing, arguing, drafting statements. 

Ranjit lies in the grip of a fierce attack of malaria with his 
temperature running to over 106° F. 

Agatha has taken with her a gramophone record for you. This is 
the new Bande Mataram tune. Do you remember a doctor who travelled 
svith us when we went to Santiniketan? He promised to send you a 
python skin. Well, he has sent it. I do not quite know how to send it 
on to you. 

Your loving, 


[Hotel Winkelried] 
27th May, 1939 

Darling Papu, 

This is my second day in Stansstad. I left London on the 24th. Stansstad 
was Bhandari’s^ idea. He has spent four or five summers here in this 
very hotel and was ecstatic about everything: the hotel, the family 

1- Refen to conflict between two Muslim sects, Shias and Sunnis. 

2. Dr RC. Bhandari- an Indian doctor practising in England who vt'as consulted by 



who runs it, the town, the surroundings. Stansstad is on the Lake of 
Lucerne, just thirty-five minutes from Lucerne by lake steamer. I expect 
I shall be here for most of the summer, so I hope the sun comes out 
soon & stays out. 

You have already had the doctors’ report from Bhandari. Hebert 
was more cautious — I suppose Harley Street specialists have to be. 
He said there was still a shadow or darkening (or some such thing) 
on the left side & that I would have to be very careful & be examined 
& X-rayed every six months or so. But that I could go to Oxford in 

I wrote to the Darb as soon as Hebert had seen me. I went up to 
Oxford for a couple of days — the Darb was very affable, kissed me 
on both cheeks & asked which room would I like to have in October. 
So I am going up definitely in October to do the ‘Social Administration’ 

With much love, 


Hotel Winkelrkd, 
Stansstad, Switzerland 
5 til June, 1939 

Darling Papu, 

I am so glad Mamu’ has got the Kew Garden job — he was looking 
forward to it. 

Since the last three days, the weather has been fine. Every morning 
after breakfast I take a small flat boat — you hire them for fifty 
centimes — take it out towards the middle of the lake and then let it 
drift while I stretch out in my bathing costume and sunbathe as well 
as do some reading. Already I have gone a deep sienna brown. 

I have been reading and enjoying very much Auden^ & 
Isherwood’s^ Journey to a War. 

I believe, from what people tell me, that I am looking much better 
but my weight is still being obstinate — 84 lbs. I am taking regular 

1. Kailas Nath Kaul: Kamala Nehru’s brother. He was a botanist. 

2. Wystan Hugh Auden: English poet. 

3. Christopher Isherwood: English playwright and novelist. 



exercise, eating enormous meals and sleeping fairly well. I don’t know 
what more to do. 

All my love, 


Amnd Bhaivan, 
3rd July, 1939 

Darling Indu, 

My letters to you grow infrequent, or at any rate the letters I actually 
write and post. But other letters take shape in my mind and remain 
unwritten. A vague feeling that too frequent letters might be a nuisance 
and a burden to you holds me back. 

Perhaps I am undergoing some inner change also, due to age and 
a variety of experiences. I am withdrawing into myself more and 
more and my incursions into the outer world are being limited. One 
part of me pushes out, the other tries to hide itself from the world. A 
Jekyll & Hyde existence. Here in Allahabad the introvert prevails and 
I live in this big house in absolute silence with very few interruptions. 
A visitor might well think that the house is uninhabited. I do not 
encourage visitors and I am glad that they respect my wishes. I am 
beginning to think that there is something in the old Hindu idea of 
sanyasa after a certain age. 

Bundles of books awaited me here, most of them sent by authors 
or pubhshers.There was Gunthers Inside Asia and Edward Thompson’s 
new book — You Have Lived Through All This, which to my surprise I 
found he had dedicated to me. I have been reading these and musing 
on this strange world in which we live. 

I am going to Ceylon. For some time past the lot of Indians in 
Ceylon has grown progressively worse. Indeed all over the world 
they are being ill-treated and, from some places, kicked out. Little 
Ceylon has been behaving very shabbily. Two weeks ago I had an 
indirect and informal invitation from some ministers of the Ceylon 
Govt, to go there. I sent a disdainful reply. If Indians were not good 
enough for Ceylon, Ceylon was not good enough for me. But when 
the Working Committee pressed me to go on their behalf and the 
A.I.C.C. passed a resolution to this effect, I had to agree. Probably I 



shall be in Colombo most of the time but I hope to steal a day for 
Kandy and a few hours for Anuradhapura where I want to see again 
the old statue of the seated Buddha in contemplation. For the last 
seven years I had a picture of this almost always with me, in prison or 
outside. Do you remember the sonnet I sent you long ago, I think 
from Almora jail?^ 

The [Kamala] Memorial Hospital has at last begun to take shape. 
The architects and contractors are here and are digging the foundations. 
It should be ready and functioning within a year. 

Your loving, 


Park Hold, 
Near Lucerne, 
15th July, 1939 

Darlingest Papu, 

How can your letters ever be too frequent or nuisances? I look forward 
to them enormously — just the sight of your handwriting on the 
envelope brings so much happiness. It is not nice to write because 
one has to — ^but to you I always want to write, to share with you the 
things that I have seen and have enjoyed. So please do give up all 
ideas that keep you from writing to me. Already I am regretring so 
much that I ever left you to your solitary domain. The sanyasi idea was 
bound to come to you — I suppose all people entertain it for a while. 
But it passes off. In you too it has to pass off for you are needed by 
India and so many many people — one of them is me. I have strange 
moods and strange ideas come fleeting across my mind; for some 
time I am like one possessed, and always with disastrous results. But 
all this too is the outcome of being alone — ^for I am lonely too ■ 
terribly lonely and alone. So dependent on you. 

Anyway here I am in far away Switzerland. You will notice that I 
have changed my address. Burgcnstock (suggested by Dr Bhandari) 

1 . See letter dated 7 June 1 935 (No. 73). 



is slightly higher than Stansstad. It has a really glorious view of Lucerne 
and its surroundings. Dr Bhandan wants me to stay on in Suisse until 
Sept. But this country is terribly expensive. You have to pay through 
the nose for everything. I think I shall return to England at the end of 
this month — -July. 

Feroze’s [Gandhi] holidays have begun & just before I left Stansstad 
he came over to Switzerland. We did two trips together — to Trubsee 
()ust above Stansstad), from whence we climbed to the ‘Joch Pass’ and 
further to ‘Jochstockli’, a peak above the pass. It was a climb of 1403 
feet. The Joch Pass is 7303 feet above sea-level. It was an enjoyable 
climb for we found many lovely Alpine spring flowers. I thought of 
you & wanted to send you some but they would only arrive withered. 

For the rest, I am finding it quite a job to read & take copious 
notes on the two colossal volumes of Finer s Dieory & Practice of Modern 

With very much love, 
From your, 

P.S. I enclose a whole heap of snaps — taken with Feroze’s Leica. Aren’t 
the enlargements good? Nine enlargements & five Httle ones. 


Anand Bliaimn, 
30th July, 1939 

Darling Indu, 

It was a delight to receive your letter^ and postcard^ and more so to 
find that you have benefited by your stay in Suisse. The pictures you 
have sent are very good and you certainly look fuller and fitter in 
them. Why cut short your stay in Suisse? If it is doing you good, lay by 
a store of energy and good health. They will stand you in good stead 
when you have to face the November fogs of England. Anyway it will 
be foolish to go back to save a little money. 

The Ceylon visit was strenuous but still exhilarating. We were 

1 Refers to letter dated 15 July 1939 (No. 209), 

2 Postcard not published. 



feted by all the big guns.This was not exhilarating. Ceylon high society’ 
is singularly uninspiring. It is a pale reflex of suburbia. But the popular 
welcome was something immense, in spite of the ill feeling that has 
arisen between Indians and Ceylonese. 

I am still revolving in my head the idea of visiting China. It takes 
shape. As a preparation for the visit I have had myself vaccinated and 
inoculated against cholera and I am carrying about with me some 
stuff" which will be injected inside me for protection against typhoid. 
This is a new experience, for I have not had any such thing done to 
me since my boyhood. But I wanted to avoid difficulties with 
regulations. Having protected my body from disease, the only danger 
that remains is from man. There is no vaccine or injecrion for that. 
But the danger is not great and what there is will add a spice to the 
visit. I wish there was real danger, I want to know how 1 feel whenl 
have to face it. 

Your loving, 


Hampdms, [Penn] 
High Wycombe, Bucks, 
27th August, i939 

Darling Papu, 

What an awful time you have chosen for going to China! 

I am here in the country, somewliere between London and Oxford 
in a small village called Penn. I am staying with Prof. W. Macmillan & 
his wife & their two children. This is the result of the combined efforts 
of Krishna & Ellen Wilkinson,^ who has a cottage not far from here. 
In [thel event of war, the Macmillans want to take their children up to 
Scotland. If there isn’t war — ^I feel in my bones that there wont be 
and yet I can’t think how it can be averted — I shall probably stay on 
here until the rmddle or end of September. 

All my love, dearest Papu> 

1 . Ellen Wilkinson: British and feminist. 




Near Chungking, 
28th August, 1939 

Darling Indu, 

There is so much expectation of war that it is impossible to make any 
plans. If war breaks out in Europe, which seems unUkely, I shall return 
immediately to India. Otherwise I shall stay on here for another three 

We had another air raid here tonight. I had a glimpse of the Japanese 
bombers caught in the searchlights and of a fight between them and 
the Chinese chaser planes. But then I was hurried into a dug-out. I am 
spending the evening and night at the Generalissimo’s [Chiang Kai- 
shek] house, right out of Chungking. Madame is a delightful hostess. 




High Wycombe, 

2nd September, 1939 

Darhng Papu, 

If you are not already in India you must be rushing back to it. 

I wonder if you received my letter’ in China. I sent it to Chungking. 
I have been in Penn nearly two weeks now. Already the small 
scattered village of Penn is filling up with children evacuated from 
London, every household has two or three.^ For the last three days I, 
who have always disliked the sight of needle & thread, have been 
sewing almost incessantly — blankets for the evacuated children and 
black curtains and blinds for the nightly blackouts. I have also 
volunteered for canteen duty. 

A couple of days ago I received a circular from Somerville College. 
It began; 

L Refers to letter dated 27 August 1939 (No 21 1). 

2. War Was officially declared on Sunday, 3 September, 1939. 



According to instructions received earlier the government 
wishes the Universities to continue to function in all their 
teaching activities, and the University of Oxford is told to carr)' 
on where it is. The buildings of Somerville College are 
requisitioned for hospital purposes, but the College will 
continue to function in its integrity, and suitable accommodation 
is provided for staff & students . . . 

Term will open at the usual time — 13th October. There follows a 
list of things we must bring to college — such as gas masks, electric 
torch, lightproof material and so on. 

I have thought over this & think that perhaps it would be best to 
continue with my original plans for going to Oxford. Especially so as 
Agatha & Dr Bhandari would not allow me to take on any full-time 
war service. Still, I am going up to London tomorrow to find out 
what I can do in and out of Oxford. There is nothing that 1 would 
dislike more than just sitting & ‘resting’ in some far-off and safe corner, 
which is what everybody seems to want me to do. 

We have been strongly ‘advised’ by the post office that letters should 
be ‘short & to the point’. So I think I had better stop. 

Much love, 


[Amiid Bhnuwi, 
17th September, 1939 

Darling Indu, 

I have just returned to Allahabad after nearly a month’s absence. 1 had 
to hurry back [from China] when I heard of the declararion of vat- 
Propably I would not have been able to come back so soon if the 
Chinese Government had not helped me by getting a special [plane] 
to carry' me direct to Burma. The ordinary air services were su-spended 
and the few airliners that were functioning were completely booked 
up. The Chinese Government got a fine Douglas passenger plane 
from Hongkong for me and this took me from Chungking to Lashio 
on the Burma border. Lashio is in the northern Shan States and is the 
railhead in Burma. I did not however wait for the ne.xt train but went 



on by car to Mandalay which was 180 miles away. En wtite I was 
stopped at several places and Burmans and Indians had gathered 
together to welcome me and there were small meetings. 

From Mandalay I went by train to Rangoon, but there were floods 
on the way and the railway line was covered by a foot of water. The 
train was stopped. I was in too much of a hurry to reach Rangoon 
and it was arranged that I should cross the flooded area by rail trolley. 
Ultimately I reached Rangoon seven hours late to find a huge crowd 
of about ten thousand or more persons still waiting for me. There was 
a great deal of pushing to reach me, and as I was cormng out of the 
station the rush was too great and many persons were unfortunately 
injured as they fell down and were trampled upon. Even I in trying to 
save others fell down. A troop of Chinese girl-guides had come to 
welcome me and seven or eight of these were among the injured, 
one getting a fracture of the collarbone. I was very much distressed at 
this but fortunately no injury was really serious. 

From Rangoon I hurried by K.L.M. to Calcutta. Thereupon I 
went by train direct to Wardha where the Working Committee was 

The air journey from Chungking to Lashio ^vas very interesting 
and over mountainous and wooded country. At times I had a feeling 
that we were on the point of colliding against a mountain which 
loomed up alarmingly near. But our Chinese pilot was good. The 
plane returned from Lashio to China soon after landing me and 
unfortunately took back with it to China a litde bag of mine by mistake. 

I was less than two weeks in China. But these few days were full 
of incidents and I could write much about them to you. I must not, 
however, do so now. 

The war has brought tremendous responsibilities to aU of us and 
our hands are going to be full. What is going to happen in India in the 
near future I do not quite know. But one thing is quite clear, that we 
are in for a dynamic situation and big changes will take place. 

I am enclosing a copy of a statement issued by the Working 
Committee. The Committee has also appointed a small war emergency 
subcommittee of which I am the chairman and the other two members 
are Maulana Abul Kalam Azad and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. 

All my love, 
Your loving, 




High Wycombe, Bucks, 
19th September, 1939 

Darling Papu, 

It is so difficult to write these days. A French soldier mote a long 
letter to his wife, who was in the country — all she received was a large 
square paper in the middle of which was printed ‘Madame, your 
husband is in perfect health but he is too talkative.’ Signed, the Censor! 

I am quite — ^indeed, very well. I am still with the Macmillans & 
shall stay on until they leave for Scotland; they have not yet decided 
just when that will be. 

Very much love, 


Hampdens, Pcmi, 
High Wycombe, Bucks, 
28th September, 1939 

Darling Papu, 

Some time ago I lost my old spectacles and tried to use the ones I 
acquired in Lucknow. These gave me a lot of trouble, so I decided to 
see a good oculist. Ellen Wilkinson recommended me hers and 1 
went up to London yesterday to see him. He put drops in my eyes 
and examined them thoroughly, and pronounced my eyesight perfecdy 
good and normal! He said I need not have glasses at all — and that if 
my eyes hurt me it just meant that I was using them too much. He 
illustrated this by saying: If you walk twenty-five miles a day, and 
gradually get more & more tired, y^ou don’t go to a doctor & ask ‘what’s 
the matter with my legs — they ache?’ That is good news, is it not? 

Jean-Jacques has been called upon to join. It must be terrible for 
Mme Morin. 

Are you getting your foreign magazines, such as Time & the Hcu’ 
Statesman, as usual? In Time of 4th Sept., there was rather a good 
photograph of you & a paragraph about your visit to China. 

All my love, 




[Anaud Bhawau, 
30th September, 1939 

Darling Indu, 

Till'; war has increased distances and lessened contacts and all manner 
of barriers have grown up keeping countries and people cut off from 
each other. My mind goes back to the last big war, before you were 
born, and when I was very much younger. We were all excited of 
course by it but it was a distant excitement as that of an onlooker at a 
game. But none of us are mere onlookers today . . . 

The last war! How gradually we grew accustomed to it as month 
by month and year by year it dragged on with its highlights and its 
long dreary periods of trench fighting. It is likely to be different this 
time, but who knows? Yet a month of it has brought vast changes and 
Poland is no more and Russia dominates the scene more and more. 
There was no radio at the time of the last war. Now everybody is 
becoming a radio fan. 

I have been going backwards and forwards between Allahabad 
and Lucknow and tomorrow I am going to Delhi to see the Viceroy. 
What will come of all this I do not know. Somehow I have lost that 
keen incentive that gave me vitality and drove me to action. Perhaps it 
is age. Yet I do not think so. It is just a sense of weariness and futility 
that has been stealing over me these three years or more. I tried to 
ignom it and to suppress it by my incessant touring and hard work. I 
impressed others but not myself, for I realised that I was trying to 
escape from an inner weakness. And now this weakness seems to 
grow and with it a carelessness of what happens. Probably I am not a 
big enough man for the job that fate has thrust upon me. 

In China I expressed a desire to get a few souvenirs. I had little 
tune to go shopping and I ^\'as not encouraged. Some things were 
brought to me. They were lovely woven silks (pictures, etc.) and rich 
embroideries. I chose a few, thinking them to be expensive. But the 
exchange was very much in my favour and so the price was reasonable. 

1 chose a few more. And then I stopped for I discovered that my 
Chinese hosts would not let me pay. This kind of thing is an 
embarrassing business, yet I could not get out of it. 

bo I brought with me a boxful of silks and woven and embroidered 
pictures. I went to Wardha first and started distributing them. There 



was Sarojini Naidu and I gave her some for herself and Bebee and 
Papi.Then to Amril Kaur’ and Psyche and Bui; to Savitri and to some 
of my political colleagues. I sent a packet to Betty. On coming to 
Allahabad I sent these silks to Rup and Bappi^ and gave other pieces 
to various friends. Suddenly I discovered that I was exhausting my 
stock. In alarm I have removed what I had left from prying eyes and 
locked them in your little cupboard. I hope this will remain there 
when you come and you will use them in some vsmy. 

Your loving, 


[Hanipdcns] Penn, 

30th September, 1939 

Darling Papu, 

This is really an odd sort of war, to say the least! When Hitler invaded 
Poland & England declared vvar I was all excited and enthusiastic and 
wanted to do something and I did help a bit in the billeting & looking 
after of the evacuated children. But the policy of the government has 
been so very discouraging. One begins to doubt — as indeed many 
people in America and other neutral countries and also in Germany 
are doubting — whether England is in earnest about the war. And 
indeed, in the light of recent history and the recent policies of the men 
who are now leading the country, how can one be sure? Churchill is 
the only man in the ministry whose words have some force and also 
ring true.^ Mr Chamberlain has never been accused of being a brilliant 
personality but now in the hour of Britain’s greatest need of leadership 
I can only quote Pachard Law in the Time & Tide: ‘We do not ask of 
Mr Chamberlain that he should be Pitt or Chatham — only that he 
should seem a little less like an alderman exposing sewage scandal. 

Much love, 

1. Rajkuman Amrit Kaur: member of the princely family of Kapurthala, disciple of 
Mahatma Gandhi. 

2. Rup and Bappi: Sister-in-law and sister of Kamala Nehru. 

3. Wmston Churchill was First Lord of the Admiralty in Chamberlain’s War Cabinet. 




6th October, 1939 

Darling Indu, 

I have just reached here from Delhi and received your letter of 
September 19th.^ 

In Delhi I had a long interview with the Viceroy and I also met, 
after three years, my old friend Mr Jinnah. The position is entirely 
uncertain and is likely to remain so for another two weeks or so. The 
prospects of a setdement are not hopeful. 

Is it possible for you to get Delhi on the radio? If so you will get 
Indian news, including my movements which are reported. Try it. 

There is much that I would Hke to tell you. I have had it on my 
mind for long. But it is not possible to write and I do not know when 
we shall meet — months or years hence. And these months & years 
will bring great changes and perhaps so many jfresh experiences to 
each of us. How uncertain everything is. Life has become more of a 
question mark than ever. 

I propose to write to you at least once a week, probably oftener. If 
you do not get my letter regularly, the fault is someone else’s. 

Your loving, 


10th October, 1939 

Darling Indu, 

I am very glad to learn that your eyes are in better condition than we 
had imagined them to be. Take care of them however, and do not use 
them too much by artificial light. Do you remember my telHng you to 
take simple eye exercises daily?^ 

I am not surprised at your letter sent to China not reaching me 
there. 1 had a curious instance of the Chinese censorship today. One 

1- Refers to letter No. 215. 

2. See letter d.ited 11 July 1933 (No 41). 



of our Chinese medical unit doctors has returned and he came to see 
me. He brought me a letter from Madame Sun Yat-sen^ who lives in 
Hongkong. She wrote to say that she had been very keen on meeting 
me and, fearing that I might not be able to go to Hongkong, she 
intended coming to Chungking to meet me. She sent me a telegram 
suggesting this and waited for my answer. I never got that telegram! 
Evidently her coming to Chungking was not approved of by the censor 
or his bosses. 

Did I write to you of my losing my little bag in the plane that 
brought me from China? Well, this bag has turned up! Our doctor 
friend from China has brought it with him. 

I met Amma in Delhi. She is very worried about you and Kailas. 

Your loving, 



17th /1 8th October, 1939 

Darling Indu, 

I wrote to you three days ago. I told you then that Edward Thompson 
had suddenly arrived in Allahabad. He shifted over to Anand Bhawan 
and spent two days with me and I had long talks with him. He is 
rather erratic in his conversation — the quality of a poet, I suppose— 
but it was a pleasant change to have him and talk to him. He helped 
me to form a better picture of England today and Europe, and I 
helped him a little perhaps to understand the amazing complexity of 
India. Before he went I gave him two small pieces of Chinese silk for 
you — one has a woven picture and the other is an embroidery. I could 
have sent you more but I did not wish to burden him or cause him 
difficulties over the customs. These are a birthday gift for you — soon 
that birthday will be coming and I do not know where I shall be 
then. So I have seized hold of this opportunity. 

I am writing this at midnight. I have just read the Viceroy’s speech 
which he has made in answer to the. Congress demand. The door is 

1. Madame Sun Yat-sen; wife of the President of the Chinese Repubhe. She later 
became aVice-Prcsident of the People’s Republic of China. 



banged.’ I suppose events will march more rapidly now and I do not 
know for how long I can write to you as I have done. 

Look after yourself, my dear, and keep your body and mind fit 
and strong. You -will require all your strength in the days to come. 

Your loving, 


25th October, i939 

Darbng Indu, 

I was very glad to learn from a cable from Krishna Menon that you 
were progressing rapidly. I have just had a talk with Jivraj Mehta. He 
thinks that a stay in Switzerland will do you a lot of good, especially 
during these winter months. It will not be so much treatment that 
you will require as regulated living under medical supervision. I do 
not know what Switzerland is like now or what it will be in the future 
as the war progresses. But presumably it will escape the war. Jivraj 
suggested Dr Rollier’s^ sanatorium or hotel in Leysin. This is called 
Les Frenes. Dr RoUier is a very agreeable person and is a friend of 
jivraj’s. 1 have written to Bhandari about this matter and asked him to 
consult you and Hebert about it. 

Your loving, 

L The door is banged’- this is a reference to a speech by the Viceroy, Lord Linlithgow, 
dated 17th October, 1939 in which the Viceroy had offered unacceptable terms to 
the Congress leaders in return for their extension of support to the British Government 
during the Second World War. 

2 Dr Auguste Rollier: Swiss physician. 




Brentford Hospital, 
26th October, 1939 

Darling Papu, 

Darling, I am terribly ashamed of myself for falling ill all over again. It 
is really most exasperating when you come to think of how 
scrupulously careful I have been about food, regular hours & rest and 
so on. Anyway, I have lost all the weight gained in the last year and 
now weigh 77 lbs! And here I am back again. I am steadily getting 
better however & since yesterday my temp, has been normal. The 
fluid is still there & my chest is very painful. 

Sitting up tires me rather easily, so I won’t write anymore just yet. 

With very much love and all good wishes — ^you must be having a 
pretty frightful time these days. 



Darling, how thoughtful of you to think of my birthday in the midst 
of all crises and meetings and trouble! I expect I’ll have to spend the 
day in bed in hospital! Doctor says I have to be here for another three 
weeks or a month. And then a few weeks somewhere in England — I 
do not think I shall go to Switzerland until Christmas time. 
Everybody is being perfectly sweet, so don’t worry about me. 

With all my love and all my thoughts, 

Your loving, 

1st Nov., 1939 

ES. , 

Darling, I’m getting a bit worried about going to Switzerland. It’s 
going to be so frightfully expensive. I can’t decide what to do. I’m 
feeling rather upset just now. But I shall write soon & tell you what 
has been decided. 

Lots of love, 




[Anand Bhawan, 
iOth November, 1939, 
Diwali Day 

Darling Indu, 

I ^vas so happy to get your letter^ from the Brentford Hospital. It is of 
course irritating and annoying that after all the care you took of 
yourself, a cold should bowl you over and upset your plans. Well, we 
shall learn from this and put in a lot of reserves of health and strength 
inside you, so that you can ignore and treat with contempt any outside 

Your going to Suisse is now more or less certain. At Jivraj Mehta’s 
instance I had suggested Leysin because Jivraj has great faith in Dr 
Rollier there. Do not worry about the cost. I do not like sanatoria as 
a rule but some of these Swiss sanatoria, notably Rollier’s, are like 
good cheerful hotels. In a pension the food is not likely to be so 
good and personal attention will be lacking. But you must not decide 
for the second best in order to save cost. That is false economy and 
may mean a more prolonged stay later on. 

1 came back to Allahabad today from Lucknow. Yesterday Nan and 
Ranjit returned here, bidding goodbye to their house in Lucknow 
and bringing all their furniture, goods and chattels with them. A long 
procession of thclas brought this from the station and for the moment 
it lies piled up all over the place. Most of it will be auctioned off 

Today is Diwali day and for the first time after many years Anand 
Bhawan is looking gay with the diye. There are not too many of 
them but still they are a pleasing sight. What a charming festival is 
Diwali! I was surprised to find in the western verandah below a 
taklita,^ all decorated with earthen toys and other Diwali 
paraphernalia, and presided over by big earthen images of Ganesh 
and Lakshini. 

I am enclosing a flower which someone has sent me. It wall remind 
you of Kashmir. It is the sa&on crocus — Sqfian ka phul. 

1- Refers to letter dated 26 October 1939 (No 223). 
2. Wooden pLatforin or bed 



I should like you to figure out your future expenses, roughly, and 
to tell me what arrangements you would like me to make. 

All my love, 
Your loving, 


12th November, 1939 


Jawaharlal Nehru 

Happy birthday darling am much better temperature normal 19 days 
gained 6 lbs fluid inflammation gone stiU staying fortnight hospital. 

Indu Nehru 


Amnd BImm, 

• Allahabad, 
16th November, 1939 

Darling Indu, 

Your message^ was very welcome because of the news it gave about 
your progress to health. In China I believe the fiftieth birthday is a 
great event, for age is honoured there and everyone is keen on 
appearing older than he is. My own enthusiasm for age is not so great 
and the figure fifty in connection with my age frightens me. Perhaps 
wisdom comes with the years, but wisdom by itself does not take one 
very far. There must be the urge and capacity to act up to that wisdom. 

Sometimes I feel very old and tired. It has nothing to do with the 
years. It is mental weariness and a feeling that I am something apart 
from the world I live in. My contacts lessen and grow more impersonal, 
and I grow more and more a spectator in the very drama in which I 
take part. Life is a curious affair and puzzles and perplexes me far 
more now than it used to do when I was younger and had more 
assurance. That assurance fades out. What do I know, what do I 

The Gunthers sent me a cable from New York: ‘Birthday greetings 

1. Refers to letter dated 12 November 1939 (No. 225). 



second fifty years are easiest when you stand fast love.’ What a horrible 
prospect to think of a second fifty years! Among the other messages 
was one from Mussoorie: 'Salgira Mubarak jhanda uncha rahe hamara} 
love Chand Tara Rita Tangle Anna.’^ Do you remember Tangle, the 
spoilt little dog which is Rita’s delight? 

Birthdays are occasions for renewing one’s wardrobe. Except for a 
new kurta and dhoti I had not added to my sartorial belongings in 
India for many years. This time there was a regular conspiracy afoot to 
induce me to have a new shetwatti made and I surrendered, although 
my old ones were quite good enough. Now I am the proud possessor 
of a new shenmni and I do not quite know what to do with it. 

In another two or three days a crowd of people will descend on 
Anand Bhawan. There , is the Working Committee and the corner- 
stone ceremony of the Kamala Memorial Hospital. We are having 
tents put up. 

One thing you really must not worry about: that is the question of 
expense. We have never worried about money matters. Why should 
we do so now? We can carry on easily enough, if not on income then 
on capital. If capital runs out we have the capacity to add to it. In this 
changing world, with all manner of revolutionary possibilities, no 
one knows what our present money may be worth a few years or 
even months hence. The real capital we have is our intellectual and 
other capacity for work and that no one can take from us. And then 
we have the very useful and worthwhile capacity for reducing our 
expenditure and changing our mode of fife when necessity demands 
this. That in itself will be an adventure which adds zest to life. But 
there is no question of that for the present or the near future. Personal 
money matters never worry me. I am so confident about my own 
capacity both to earn enough and to reduce my own expenditure that 
the future does not trouble me. 

The httle book I wrote — Letters from a Father to his Daughter — has 
become quite a goldmine, though I am not going to profit by it. It is 
becoming a textbook in many provinces in English, Hindi and Urdu 
and vast numbers have been printed. I was hardly aware of this fact 
when I discovered that Kitabistan had made about Rs. 20,000 out of 
it. Something to the tune of Rs. 2500 or so trickled to me also. But I 
disliked the idea of exploiting poor students and so I have made a 

!• Happy Birthday; May our flag fly high. 

“ Anna Ornsholt. governess of the daughters ofVijaya Lakshmi Pandit. 



present of my rights in the book to provincial governments and 
universities on condition that the book was issued at a ver)^ low price. 
The U.P. Govt, are selling it to students at four annas^ and yet making 
a substantial profit. At my suggestion they are using this money for 
scholarships for poor students, to be named after Kamala. 

I suppose I could have made a lot of money out of my books if I 
had been a businessman. But I have a knack of choosing impecunious 
publishers or even bankrupt ones. The Tamil edition of my 
Autobiography has sold very well but I have not profited at all by it as 
the publisher is half-mad and half-knave and is in addition an insolvent! 
I cannot even keep in touch with the numerous editions of my books 
in India. Still, I must not complain. Some money comes in regularly 
and is of great help — not in personal expenditure which is not great, 
but for other purposes. 

Your loving, 


Brentford Hospital, 
IPtli November, 1939 

Darling Papu 

Your telegram has just come. 

Nobody [knows] here that it is my birthday today and yet by a 
strange coincidence — or rather, series of coincidences— I ani 
celebrating it in a fitting manner. After a most unusually unrestful and 
stormy night, windy and noisy with the banging of doors and the 
rattling of blinds, Sunday dawned one of the most beautiful days of 
the year: sunny, dry and very clear with just a few clouds to cast 
occasional shadows and to make the sky more interesting. England 
started the day by having an extra hour in bed, for this morning at 
three a.m. British Summer Time came to an end and all clocks were 
put back an hour. After that I was allowed to walk, even to have a real 
regular bath, the first since I fell ill five weeks ago. I wasn’t allowed to 

1 . There were sixteen nnnas in a rupee. 



Stay in very long but it was grand all the same. 

The last three days I have been sitting up for tea and in the mornings 
have my bed pulled right up to the window — ^which, thank goodness, 
I can keep wide open — so I can look out on more cheerful objects 
than the grey walls of a hospital ward. 

Day before yesterday the Macmillans, the people I was staying 
with out in the country, in Penn, Bucks., drove along here to see me. 
Wasn’t it sweet of them? They’re both most frightfully busy people & 
a forty-mile drive is not very amusing in these days of petrol rationing. 
Prof Macmillan thought I would be interested to meet G.D.H. Cole^ 
and, before he heard that I was ill, wrote to him to look me up at 
SomerviUe. Poor G.D.H. trotted up to Somerville and had to spend 
quite a while in the very dreary porter’s lodge before he found out 
that I hadn’t come up. 

You rmght be interested in these cuttings of Byrd’s^ expedition. 
Do such news creep through to the Indian papers? American 
magazines, such as Life and Time are having very interesting sections 
on the present war. Do you manage to see them, I wonder. 

Here I am writing to you of fleeting, foolish things, while you at 
the moment must be in conference, burdened with [the] responsibility 
of important decisions! Good luck & all my love. 

21st November 

Still not posted this letter! One of the major nuisances of being lU is 
being completely dependent for one’s everyday needs on the memory 
and time of other people. 

Bapu sent me a cable on the 10th, mentioning the ‘ceremony’. I 
couldn’t quite get the meaning of it until your letter came and I found 
that it was the ceremony of laying the corner-stone of the hospital. 

From friends in Somerville has come the birthday gift of a book 
on the Impressionists, with glorious colour prints of some of their 
paintings. It is a joy to look at & I miss you for I would share those 
colours and the beauty of it with you. 

Much love, darling, 

1- G.D.H. Cole: British economist and socialist 

- Richard Evelyn Byrd American aviator and explorer. In 1939 he commanded the 
Us. Antarctic Service, a government-sponsored expedition. 




Brentford Hospital, 
24th November, 1939 

Darlingest Papu, 

I loved your long letter — ^but not all of it. What’s all this about getting 
old? No one has any right to pretend he’s getting old when he’s only 
just fifty — no one, that is, who has ever been young. The essentials of 
youth belong to you for as long as you hke. What do the years matter? 
You have been young always and even now, except for occasional 
depressions which everybody has, you are younger in spirit than most 
of us. You are a case of jeunesse qui suit, or if you prefer — vieillesse qiii 
peut2 I am afiaid this myth of old age is vastly overdone in India and 
I have always held strong views on the subject. And the other day, I 
came across an article which said more precisely than I ever could just 
what I thought. Do you mind if I quote? 

Something whispers in the ear of every person over forty, ‘You 
are getting old. You are not so good as you used to be.’ And 
God help him if he Hstens. Youth says it, believing that it needs 
to insist on that chance to make a place for itself. One’s own 
lazy contemporaries say it to justify their own self-coddlings 
and abandonment of effort. Under our prev ailin g notions the 
first grey hair gives that magnificent excuse long sought by the 
indolence of our natures. We forget that what fifty years of 
sunshine and winter cold have done to our wrinkles means 
nothing as to the man or woman inside and has often added an 
interest and a beauty of power and character that was never 
there in youth. 

. . . This spirit of youth is a fine thing, but far less humane 
[or] potentially joyous than the spirit of maturity. Glorify youth 
and one glorifies whatever is the moment’s fashion. We are all 
familiar with the piddling literary attempts of most great writers 
in their youth. That out of such feeble cleverness finally emerges 
original work of authentic power is little short of miraculous. 

1 . You are a case of youth that knows, or if you prefer — old age that can. 



Yet we ignore such facts & idealise that one characteristic which 
is our weakness and danger — the imitative and sentimental 
restlessness of youth. 

I have a letter from Edward Thompson. He writes: ‘Your father 
svas an angel to me. He is a wonderful fellow; so boyish, and so drawing 
every one’s eyes with affection and admiration. You should have seen 
Inm atWardha! He runs like a boy and his face lights up with a boy’s 
smile . . .’ 

The Chinese silks have not arrived yet, for the Thompsons did 
not know my address & have written asking for it. They have sold 
their Boar’s Hill house in Oxford and are now living in Bucks. 

The German blockade is certainly a thing to be reckoned with — 
more than twenty ships sunk this week — the mighty British Navy is 
fast losing her minesweepers and destroyers. 200 German mines were 
swept ashore last week. Hitler’s secret weapon is now said to be the 
‘magnetic mine’. It is said to lie much deeper than the reach of a 
minesweeper, attached to a needle-like thing which floats on the 
surface but is too small to be noticed. As soon as a vessel comes into 
contact with this needle, it draws up the mine and causes it to explode. 

Lots of love, darling — keep well and forget those fifty years of 




[Aiiand Bhawan, 
2nd December, 1939 

Darling Indu, 

I returned yesterday from Muttra (what an awfiil way of spelling a 
sweet sounding word like Mathura), and found your letter of the 
19tli/21st Nov.^ awaiting me. I am so happy to learn that you had an 
enjoyable birthday with plenty of flowers and fruit and sunshine — 
not to mention chocolates. 

1 Goodbye for the present. 

2 Refers to letter No 227. 



I liked my visit to Muttra. On my way there I spent a few hours at 
Agra just to see the Taj on the night of the full moon — the Kartiki 
Puwima. I like the Taj very much, not only because of its exceeding 
beauty, but also because it takes me out of the present. Muttra again 
was full of the atmosphere of a bygone age with its Krishna legends 
and its delightful and melodious Braj-Bhasha.^ It was extraordinary 
to notice how the peasantry were fiiU of this old culture and tradition. 
In course of conversation, they would refer to some old story or quote 
a hne from Tulsi Das.^ There is something in an old culture after all, 
which gives poise and distinction to life. 

Early one morning some of our party went to a neighbouring 
well for a bath. This was situated amidst the fields and the peasant 
owner or tenant came with his bullocks to draw out water from the 
well for his fields. They use a big leather bucket called a mot. When 
the first bucket came up our people wanted to start bathing. But the 
peasant asked them to wait as the first lot of water was dedicated to 
KanhaiyajP (what a sweet name this is). He said that he liked pouring 
out the first five mot fuUs to Kanhaiyaji and other favourite divinities, 
but in any event the first one should not be touched. Our people told 
him that they were certainly not going to interfere with his old custom. 
They were Congressmen and between the Congress and the peasants 
there was sumati.'^ Yes, said the peasant, and immediately quoted a 
famous line ofTulsi 'Dasjahan sumati tahan samptti nam — ^where there 
is goodwill and cooperation, there is an abundance and variety of 

I regretted nothing so much in Muttra as my ignorance ofBraj- 
Bhasha. I felt how cut off I was firom the life of the people and the 
roots of their culture, and how much I had missed because of this. 
And straightaway I resolved that when I have to put up with my next 
period of enforced retirement I shall devote myself to the study of 
Hindi and Urdu literature. After all, it is the language that is the closest 
bond between people and is the mirror where one sees their minds 
and hearts. 

The other day Dhanno (Lady Rama Rau) came to see us with her 
daughter Premi. Premi had grown up into a fine tall girl but India to 

1. Regional variety of Hindi. 

2. Tulsi Das: Hindi poet of medieval India who wrote the epic RamachariliiiMOS. 

3. A variant of the name of Lord Krishna. 

4. Goodwill. 



her was a foreign land. Her younger sister was even more alien in 
India. Dhanno could not take her to various places as the sanitary 
arrangements were not according to European standards! 

It is somewhat expensive to send the N.H. cuttings by air but it is 
worth it in order to keep you in touch with events here. I offered to 
pay the Herald people the postage but very magnanimously they said 
that they would not charge me as I was their most frequent unpaid 
contributor! Very generous of them — only the ultimate burden of the 
N.H. comes back to me! But if you like and if it amuses you, you can 
yourself pay for this by sending good cuttings from newspapers for 
reproduction in the Herald. Or sometimes, when you are much stronger 
and better, you can write a brief essay on conditions in SAvitzerland in 
wartime or anything else — the more informal the better, just like a 
personal letter. You write good letters. But you must only do this for 
the fun of it, if you like doing it. It is amusing to write once you get 
into the hang of it. 

Thank you for the cuttings about Byrd’s expedition. This kind of 
thing is good and should be appreciated. My foreign papers have 
started coming again but they come most irregularly and in batches. I 
have been getting both Time and Life — ^both are gifts from friends in 
America. After glancing through Time & Life I have been sending 
them to Chand at Mussoorie. She loves these American weeklies. 

Your loving, 


Les Prates, 
21st December, 1939 

Darling Papu, 

I have been wanting to write to you ever since I arrived here in 
Leysin on the 16th. But the journey tired me out . . . 

As you know, we came by plane to Paris. That was perhaps the 
most tiring phase of the journey. We had booked seats on the eleven 
0 clock plane — there are two services only these days. On the eve of 
our departure, at about six p.m. on the 14th, our travelling agency 



rang us up to say that our plane had been commandeered by the 
military authorities, but that we could go by the earlier one. This 
meant being at Airways House (nobody is allowed to go to the airport 
on their own) at seven thirty a.m. It is a good hour’s drive to Victoria 
from Brentford and at that hour of the morning it is pitch dark and 
there is the early morning mist — ^into the bargain, it rained. So I had 
to get up at five thirty a.m. & leave hospital at six fifteen. Driving in 
the blackout is no fun at any time and the driver of my car was not 
exactly pleased. ‘Where d’ye want to go?’ — ‘Airways House’ — ‘Don’t 
know where it is! When d’ye have to be there?’ — ‘seven thirty’ — 
‘Can’t possibly make it!’ But make it we did, only to have to wait 
there until eight thirty. Then we jogged along to Heston, where I was 
deprived of my identity card & ration book and was sternly reproved 
for having left my gas mask behind! At the passport examination we 
were each handed an important looking paper. Agatha very carefully 
put ours away in her bag for safety. Later I wondered what it was & 
she reluctantly brought it out again. This is what it said: 


will not help Britain while abroad if you — 
run down the British war effort; 

allege that British government organisations are bad, 
muddled, and inept; 

give the impression that Britain is defenceless or in danger; 
talk thoughtlessly of military, aerial, or naval matters, even 
if, in your opinion, what you say is harmless. 

At the Paris office of Air France we found Nanu waiting. We took 
a room in a hotel opposite the station & I was promptly put to bed 
until we left by the eight o’clock Simplon Express. I had a good 
night — these train sleepers are comfortable. From what we had heard 
of the experiences of other people, we were not looking forward to 
VaUorbe — the French frontier. But everything went fine & customs & 
other officials did not even remind us of the war. When we thought 
we had finished all the formalities, there came yet another knock on 
the door, which was then opened by one of the quaintest persons 1 
have ever seen. He might have been any age from fifty to 200 — his 
face was so wrinkled & yet not at all old and it was capped by a most 
peculiar furry affair. But all this I noticed later — the first thing that 
struck me was his smile: ‘it was as long as a summer’s afternoon with 


( 1 ) 






no teeth to stop its coming through’! Agatha & I lost all power of 
speech and stared most rudely — not that a little thing like that could 
disconcert the apparition. He bowed low and salaamed in the regular 
Lucknow manner. Then he spoke: ‘I am the medical officer. Have you 
any infectious disease?’ Another bow and salaam — exit. 

Switzerland at last. 

This is not a bad place at all — ^very neat and comfortable rooms, 
very good food. 1 have rather an expensive room at the moment but I 
hope to change soon. I have a balcony & a magnificent view of the 
Dents du Midi. This view is reflected in my mirror inside the room, 
so actually I have the Dents du Midi on both sides of me! 

You would like Dr Rollier, I am sure. I do. And Agatha was most 
impressed. 1 think she is writing to you at great length about all that 
he told her & showed her, so I shan’t repeat it here. He wants me to 
stay here for about three months, at the end of which time I shall be 
transformed into a Diana! He said to me: ‘You are like a perfectly 
good motor car whose engine & wheels and everything is quite in 
order but there is no petrol so it cannot run; sometimes you can push 
it a little way but not far. There is nothing wrong with you but you 
have no muscular development & no strength to make your organs 
run as smoothly as they can run. I do not want you fat as a goose, that 
is only good for Christmas!!’ 

Bijju Chacha would approve of him, for he believes in exercises, 
breathing and otherwise. Dr Rollier says my left lung is much smaller 
than the right & nothing can be done until its size is increased by 
breathing exercises. So would Shridhar Chacha approve of him: for 
he believes in the sun. He told me to eat mostly those things which 
grew in the sun. 

But meanwhile I have to stay in bed for perhaps a month more. 
Agatha got me a lovely pot of cyclamens, which I love, and 
Mademoiselle Rollier (one of the Dr’s daughters who is at least 6 ft 
tall) brought me a pot of maidenhair ferns. And I have a radio. So 
things are not quite as tedious as they might have been. So far, the 
acid voice of the German announcer from Bremen & Hamburg — 
they call him ‘Lord Haw-Haw’ in England — and the B.B.C. news are 
Illy only connection with the world outside. Listening to these two 
news services bent on contradicting and making fun of each other — 
how very ridiculous this wretched war seems! 



22nd December 

I couldn’t write any more yesterday for my bed was taken out on the 
balcony and my fingers grew too cold to hold and direct a pen. 

Mile Hemmerlin has sent me a whole heap of books & a little 
box of delicious home-made biscuits — they are packed rather nicely 
in a silvery box and every time Dr RoUier comes in, he says: ‘Don’t 
eat too many chocolates!’ 

Dr Rolher comes in every other day on a ‘fiiendly’ visit & once a 
week — Friday — officially. The doctor, or Monsieur le Professeur, as 
he is called here, is a great believer in handwork as a potent help 
towards better health, so it’s a good thing I learnt knitting before I 
arrived here; else I should have had to do so here. Not far from here 
is RoUier ’s ‘Factory cUnic’. Here the patients make slippers, jigsaw 
puzzles, knitted articles, rugs and many other things, which the 
government helps to seU — thus these patients are not only enabled to 
pay something for their board & lodging & treatment but can also 
support their families to some extent, in spite of being ill. 

This year is coming to an end — ^what does 1940 hold for us? It 
doesn’t look as if it is going to be very cheerful. I do not know when 
this letter wiU reach you, but it brings Avith it my very best wishes for 

Lots of love, darling, 

Preface to Part Two 

Part Two of this volume covers the letters exchanged between Indira 
Gandiu and Jawaharlal Nehru from 1940 to 1962. 

As I have suggested in my introduction, Indira Nehru’s stay in 
Oxford as a young scholar in the late 1930s witnessed an extraordinary 
maturing of her mind. She acquired, in this period, a substantial interest 
in world affairs, particularly as they impinged upon the liberation of 
India and the struggle between democracy and fascism. A brief spell 
of illness, which obliged her to recuperate in a sanatorium in 
Switzerland, deepened her introspection. The onset of the Second 
World War compelled her to return to India. 

By the early 1940s Indira Gandhi had grown into an individual of 
depth and poise. In her marriage to Feroze Gandhi in August 1942, 
and in motherhood afterwards, she found emotional enrichment and 
fulfilment. She recorded in meticulous detail for her father each tender 
moment of motherhood, as she watched the flowering of a young 
life. The correspondence between Indira Gandhi and Jawaharlal 
Nehru when both were in prison is particularly poignant. They were 
lonely persons. Yet their minds were endowed with a rich interior 
landscape. Father and daughter shared a passion for books on a wide 
range of subjects. Above all, they loved the beauty of nature. One can 
see in Indira Gandhi’s letters the making of the future crusader for 
ecological conservation. In this, as m other respects, she was so much 
ahead of her times. 

The turn of events in 1946 brought Indira Gandhi and Jawaharlal 
Nehru to Delhi. Jawaharlal Nehru was now drawn into high political 
office and, from August 1947, he shaped the political destiny of India 
as Prime Minister. Since father and daughter lived under the same 
roof, the exchange of correspondence between them became 
infrequent. However, the notes which Indira Gandhi now addressed 
to Jawaharlal Nehru when she travelled to different parts of India, or 
overseas, show her in the role of a political activist. She always wanted 
to be near the scene of action, and she brought a penetrating intellect 
to bear on a variety of issues. She also acted as the eyes and ears of her 

The 1950s served as a rewarding apprenticeship to power for Indira 
Gandhi.Yet her involvement in politics did not impoverish the richness 



of her inner life. As her letters written during these years show, even 
when she dwelt upon pohtics the personal ties which bound father 
and daughter together were reflected, again and again, in a chance 
phrase or a stray reference. Such a fusion of the public and the private 
worlds confers on these letters a distinctive quality. Indeed, the 
correspondence bears witness not only to the depth of the relationship 
between father and daughter but also to shared political and moral 
values. Jawaharlal Nehru had already made his mark on history; Indira 
Gandhi was destined to do so before long. 

The Political Setting of the 
Early 1940s 

The year 1940 was a turbulent and eventful one in Indian politics. 
When the British Government declared India to be a belligerent in 
the war which had broken out between Great Britain and Nazi 
Germany in September 1939, the leaders of the Indian National 
Congress viewed such a declaration as unjustified, since the people 
of India, whom they represented, had not been consulted before the 
declaration of war. Indeed, the various Congress Governments which 
had been constituted in the Provinces of British India in 1937 resigned 
as a protest against the British move. 

Among the leaders of the Congress, Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal 
Nehru, Sardar Patel and Maulana Azad, to mention only a few, there 
was a feeling that the people of India were unequivocally opposed to 
the unilateral action of the British Government, and they would 
therefore seek to give expression to their resentment in an anti- 
imperialist struggle. Consequently, at the annual session of the 
Congress in Ramgarh in March 1940, a resolution was adopted, at 
the initiative of Jawaharlal Nehru, urging the British Government to 
commit itself to conferring independence upon India after the war, 
and also to constituting a Provincial Government with the participation 
of the nationahst leadership. A free India, it was pointed out, would 
readily join hands with the British in fighting Nazi Germany. 
Thereafter, there were several rounds of consultations between the 
Congress leaders and the British Government, as a result of which 
the Viceroy, Lord Linlithgow, issued a statement on 8th August, 1940, 
holding out: 1) that his Executive Council would be expended to 
include nationalist leaders, who would also be invited to serve on a 
War Advisory Council; and 2) that the British Government would 
refrain from vesting governmental authority over India in the hands 
of a party which did not enjoy the confidence of all sections of Indian 

The leaders of the Congress considered the Viceroy’s statement 
wholly unsatisfactory. Indeed, the statement constituted an open 
invitation to the minorities to obstruct the attainment of independence 
by India. As a result of this, a decision was taken to initiate a movement 



of individual satyagraha in September 1940. This decision was taken 
as an interim measure, since the adoption of a mass satyagraha called 
for a period of intensive preparation before the signal for popular 
assault on the British Raj could be given. As we shall see, such a 
popular movement was actually initiated in August 1942, in the shape 
of the famous ‘Quit India’ Movement. 

Indira Gandhi was a little over twenty-two in January 1940. She 
had last been with her father when she was in India between November 
1938 and April 1939. 

Section I 


'' '♦ 


Les Frenes, 
2nd January, 1940 

Darling Papu, 

Dr Rolher has his own system of breathing & other exercises and, as 
I am under his care, I think it is best to stick to his methods. At the 
beginning of next week, I shall begin lying in the ‘position ventrale’ — 
only a few minutes to start with — on my tummy with pillows 
supporting the chest and the head held high. 

I was weighed today; 38 kgs — that is just under 84 lbs. I ought, for 
my height, to be at least 110 lbs! 

Dr Schmidt, one of the Frenes doctors, was quite excited the other 
day. His sister ivho lives in America sends him, more or Jess regularly. 
Life. In the issue of Dec. 11th was an article ‘Nehru of India’ by John 
& Frances Gunther. It had several pictures of the family too. 


4th January 

Tomorrow it will be exactly three weeks since I arrived, and still I am 
just where I began. No one expects miracles but I must say it is very 
discouraging — the more I stay in bed the weaker I feel and the less I 
want to do anything. The days are most frightfully monotonous, 
especially as there is no one to talk to — the patients are allowed to 
pay visits to one another in the evenings, but they all have their families 
with them. 

Much love, 


Anand Bhawan, 
5th January, 1940 

Darling Indu, 

I am glad you like Leysin and Dr Rollier. I shall now eagerly look 
forward to the transformation of Indira Nehru into a Diana. 

I was in Amritsar a few days ago to attend a Scout mela and I had a 



narrow shave in an accident which might have been serious. Punjab 
crowds are . . . full of affection and enthusiasm but will not obsewe 
any discipline, which is surprising as the Punjab is supposed to be a 
military province.There were nearly 7000 Scouts from all India gadiered 
there — ^both boys and girls — ^looking quite smart. Men and women 
poured into the Scout area. They were made to line up outside a 
huge field which was kept free for parade and various exercises. 
Everything seemed to be well organised and there were barricades 
and eight rows of Scouts to keep the crowds back. I arrived and went 
into the centre of the field and suddenly the crowd rushed, broke all 
barriers, swept aside the Scouts and filled the field. Over a hundred 
thousand men and women, shouting slogans, full of enthusiasm, 
surrounded me. It was impossible to move them away and the 
programme for the day could not be started. I decided to get on 
horseback and move about the surging crowds. A fine, big, spirited 
horse was produced. It was wholly unsuitable as it was unused to 
crowds. It shied continually and reared up on his hind legs. Suddenly 
there was a rush by the crowd and the horse grew frightened and 
reared up so much that it lost its balance and fell back. For a fraction 
of a second I saw myself being crushed by the huge weight of the 
beast.Visions of being a cripple for life rose before me. It was surprising 
what a lot of images passed before my mind during that tiny fraction 
of a second. Meanwhile instinct and old habit functioned and I just 
managed to extricate myself as the horse fell to the ground. Then he 
rolled a little and my foot was pressed by his body — not much, 
otherwise it would have been crushed. The stirrup where the foot 
had been an instant before was aU buckled up. I got up with some 
pain in the foot but otherwise sound and immediately mounted the 
horse again — to show ofi", I suppose, but partly also because walking 
was a httle painful. The foot has almost recovered since then. 

I went to Lahore for a day also and addressed a vast meeting there. 
Whenever I go to Lahore I stay with Iftikhar-ud-Din^ (an Oxford 
man) and meet many Muslim young men and women. It is surprising 
how Mushm young women of the upper middle classes are taking to 

1. Mian Iftikharuddin: eminent Punjab politician, member of Punjab Legislative 
Assembly and President of Punjab Provincial Congress Committee; he left Congress 
in 1945 and joined the Muslim League, and was for some time Minister for 
Rehabilitation in Punjab, Pakistan. Later he formed the National Party along with 
Abdul GhaffarKhan. 



socialism, or at any rate think they are. But this theoretical approval of 
socialism does not come in the way of the joys of life, which in Lahore 
consists of the most inane and unsupportable round of parties and 

Do you remember Sappho, the Great Dane babe at Betty’s place 
in Bombay? The babe grew and grew and was about a year and a half 
old last month. We were all tremendously fond of her and I looked 
forward to seeing her and playing about with her whenever I went to 
Bombay. Raja doted on her. Harsha and Ajit^ took all manner of 
liberties with her. Suddenly the poor thing developed rabies and died 
within two days. Betty and Raja were heartbroken. Just at this time 
Nan, Chand, Tara & Rita were also there. So everybody in Betty’s 
family & Nan’s have since had to take daily injections of some anti- 
rabies serum. This has been a real tragedy. I don’t think I could keep 
a dog. They die too soon. 

Your loving, 


Anand Bhawan, 
16th January, 1940 

Darling Indu, 

I have not written to you for about ten days. For nearly aU this time I 
have been touring intensively in some of our north-western districts 
of the U.R [United Provinces] — Aligarh, Bulandshahr, Meerut, 
Muzaffarnagar, Saharanpur, Moradabad. 

Our peasant masses depress me with their poverty but their 
enthusiasm is catching. More and more I feel in tune with them rather 
than with the listless and argumentative folk of the cities. I have even 
begun to appreciate just a wee bit the peasant’s attachment to the soil. 
The good earth has something solid, substantial and permanent about 
It, which IS comforting in these days when everything else seems to 
be fleeting. Wars may rage and decimate humanity, but the seasons 
follow each other in regular succession, and the flowers bloom, and 
the soil produces food, and the fields look peaceful and gay. I felt the 

1 • Harsha Hutheesing and Ajit Hutheesing; the two sons of Krishna and G. P. Hutheesing 



call of the good earth and the joy of seeing things grow out of this soil. 

The districts I visited are relatively prosperous and compare very 
favourably with our eastern districts Hke Gorakhpur and BaUia where 
the poverty is extreme and the multitudes that gather are semi-naked. 

The Jats are strong in these areas. They are perhaps more 
passionately attached to the soil than any other group. Hefty, weather- 
beaten and healthy looking, they are almost parts of the country' 
landscape. Always when I go to these rural areas, I am pleasantly 
surprised by the handsome types of humanity that I see. 

On my way back I spent a few hours at Lucknow and a deputation 
from the Uday Shankar Company,^ which was performing there, 
[was] waiting on me and invited me to attend. I Hked the show but I 
must confess that I am less impressed by it than I used to be. There 
was a new item or rather series of items — the Rhythm of Life. This is 
an ambitious theme. The conception is good and the execution of 
parts was also not bad. 

I can quite understand how boring it must be for you to keep in 
bed most of the time. But I suppose that after the initial months you 
will gradually be getting up more and more. Lying in bed makes one 
weaker and more Hstless but it is meant to give rest to the lungs so 
that they might get strong. 

Your weight is not Ukely to go up much in bed. It is only the first 
month in bed that pushes up the weight and you were in bed at 
Brentford for a long time. When you are up and about, the weight 
will soar up. 

Modern conditions are very upsetting as they provide excitements 
and sensations in quick succession and prevent an equilibrium from 
developing. Hence the great value of restful and uneventful periods. 
Do not worry or feel discouraged. That is not Hke you. 

My foot has not yet recovered firom the sHght injury received at 
Amritsar. We age. I cannot judge about myself but I am often surprised 
to see others around me showing signs of age. Nan’s hair is almost all 
grey now. Betty is very matronly. 

Your loving, 

1. Uday Shankar pioneered the revival of classical dance forms in India, and combined 
them with elements of modern choreography. He founded a company to promote 
liis art. 




Amnd Bhawan, 
23rd January, 1940 


This morning I returned finm Wardha. I feel somewhat out of place 
here for the moment. The All India Women’s Conference is filling 
the picture and our house will be, and partly is already, full of the 
distinguished delegates. The president, Mrs Hamid Ali^ (plus 
husband). Ram Rajwade,^ Amrit Kaur, Sarojini Naidu, Padmaja, Papi, 
Mridula^ and possibly some others will be staying here. The conference 
camp IS m Durbhanga Castle and over a hundred delegates will put 
up there. There is tremendous bustle and activity and women getting 
excited and shouting at each other. A week of this. 

The Gunthers have sent me a lovely book — The Last Flower by 
James Thurber.'* I almost felt like ordering a copy for you as you are 
sure to enjoy it. But in these war days it is difficult to send books. In 
one of the recent numbers of Life some ofThurber’s pictures and text 
are reproduced. I am enclosing these two pages. They will give you 
some idea of the book. 

What do you do for books? I suppose you brought a supply "with 
you and then MUe Hemmerhn sent you some. It is easier for you to 
make direct arrangements with booksellers in England than for me 
to do so. 

Today I received the number of Life containing Gunther’s article 
on ‘Nehru of India’ and the close-up picture, about which you wrote 
to me.^ 

The Memorial Hospital^ building is growing up rapidly here. 

Chand,Tara & Pdta are here and I Hke to play about with them. 
They are jolly kids. 

1 • Begum Shareefah Hamid Ali; prominent social reformer, wife of A. Hamid Ah, civil 

2. Rani G. Laxmibai Rajwade: chairman of the sub-committee on women’s rights. 
National Planning Committee of the All India Congress Committee, 1938. 

3. Mndula Sarabhai: member of the Sarabhai family of Ahmedabad, who was active in 
the freedom struggle. 

4. James Grover Thurber- American humorist and cartoomst. 

5 Refers to letter dated 2 January 1940 (No 231). 

The Kamala Nehru Memonal Hospital 


• I wo ALONl.. TWO H'OCTHF.R • 

Can 1 send something to you — magazines or anything ehc which 
will keep you in touch with India and things Indian? 

Your loving. 




7lh Pebnuty. !94(^ 


Slieikh Abdullah of Kashniir* is stavnng with us. 1 like hitn. Me prcsH"‘ 
me to fulfil my old promise to go to Kashmir. How 1 wish 1 cmilvl. h 
is twenty-four years since 1 was there. But 1 have no heart to go just bv 

Tliere is a young Kashmiri girl here freshly cotne from Kaslinitn 
Her husband works in Sw'araj Bhawan. She feels so homesick alreaily 
and talk.s of the almond-blo.ssoms that be coming out in ail theii 
beauty at this time in Kashmir, Spring must be ca'eping in there after 
the hard winter . . , Here in Allahabad we approach tlie hot stiininer. 


Your loving. 


9ill lxl>rii,1!f. 

UarlingC't Bapu, 

What groat jtw your leticrs bting to me! To the gloom itisl darkttc.o 
my mind each letter w rather like the single flower of'fbm'b'Ti — a nsewertger of hope, an a'siu.uue th.u M.>rncrlmrg i’ there, 
eve?! in the miibt td'dus darkness, osi which suic e.nt build anew Af:d 

t I, j2'*> •»: Kj* 

Ifrf s'J C-l.t-rf 



then they bring you close, so close to me, as though the vast Indian 
Ocean were only a pond, and all the lands between just stepping 

Wliat is it that has so depressed me? I don’t really know. It is not 
just the lying in bed, nor even the being so lonely, or this truly wintry' 
weather. Most of all, it is, I expect, this complete inactivity — physical 
as well as mental. For, as you know, I was not allowed any books or 
even magazines out of England. Nor can they be posted out here 
unless the book is a new one and is sent by a bookseller who is in 
possession of an export licence. 

Dr Roche of Montana has been a true friend although I have 
never met him. Every week he sends me regularly, or at least as regularly 
as he himself gets them, the Tributte, New Statesman & Nation, Reynolds 
News and any other English paper that has come his way and he 
thinks might interest me. From Geneva, from friends of Agatha’s, 
come the Reader’s Digest and the Manchester Guardian weekly and once 
some novels. 

From Mile Hemmerlin, I have now procured the new edition of 
Gliwpscs. In London, I was one of the very few Indians that I know of 
who did not receive a complimentary copy. So this is really the first 
proper look I have had at it — earlier I had a brief glimpse at Agatha’s 
copy. It will give a sort of continuity to my reading, for I find that 
reading a lot of newspapers & short stories one after the other is most 

Nearly every week there is a new discovery that will in course of 
time change our way of hving. And because one never hears of the 
years of research and trial and failure that have gone before it, it seems 
rather like the waving of a fairy’s wand. At the moment I am especially 
excited about the stroboscope and Nylon. You have probably heard 
of them. The stroboscope is known as the ‘lamp that freezes motion’. 
Through its rays you can not only see each drop in a waterfall 
suspended in the air but also you can make it move backwards & 
upw'ards! Which means that no movement on earth is now too fast to 
be photographed and hence studied in all its details. Fascinating, isn’t 
It? Meanwhile Nylon is already on the market. It is a material made 
from srater, air & coal — in a word, ‘ersatz’ at its best. It is elastic, strong, 
transparent or opaque and never loses its shape unless heated above 
boiling point. It can be made into anything from tooth brush bristle 
to women’s sheer stockings. Furthermore, it is cheap and lasting and 
beautiful to look upon. Hence it is thought that it presents a very' 



serious rival to silk and [thus] to Japan’s trade. 

Even as I have been writing, the dirty muddy litde village of Leysin 
has been transformed into a fairy land Christmas card. For it has been 
snowing, oh, so hard. Everything is all white & beautiful again 
With all my very best love, darling, and special thoughts too. 



Les Frines, 
1 7th February, 1940 

Darling Papu, 

I am feeling much better these last days — ^mentally, that is.That dreadful 
depression has lifted somewhat — maybe as a result of reading the 
Glimpses] I read a bit everyday while doing my ‘position ventrale’. 
Physically there is no visible change. 

1 8th February 

It’s been snowing for days and still the soft white flakes flutter down 
endlessly. Already on my balcony there is a good three-inch layer. 
But it is not very cold. When it is really cold, you have but to throw a 
handful of water on the ground or the window for it to freeze 
immediately into a most intricate and lovely design of hundreds of 
ice particles. 

Two months in Leysin, Four and a half months in bed. When I 
first arrived here. Prof. Rollier himself suggested the time limit of 
three months at Les Frenes as being the time required to set me up 
on my feet strongly. I suppose the three months have been extended — 
by how much, I do not know. If only I could see or feel, or that at least 
the doctor could see, any improvement — then staying in bed or 
anything else would not matter. If — ^if. 

The way they squeeze money out of you in this country is nothing 
short of scandalous. Those litde things that most patients need at one 
time or another but in such minute quantities that in no other country 
would a hospital dream of charging for them cost money. For instance 
one teaspoon liquid paraffin costs one Swiss franc! The same price as 
a pot of tea! My weekly bill comes to an average of 180 Frs. 



In three days there is ‘La vente RoIIiers’,’ a charity sale for the 
poorer patients. Madame Rollier has been to see us all & given us a 
pile of embroidery to do for it. And so these last days I have not done 
much else. 

Don’t be depressed, darling — I think it transfers itself to me. And 
do, do look after yourself 

Much love, 


Amiid Bhawan, 
22nd Fcbmary, 1940 

My darling. 

Your last letter of Feb. 9th^ has put me out somewhat. It cannot be 
too cheerful of course resting all the time, and this terrible cold which 
you have been having must be depressing. But to suffer from lack of 
books and papers is something that never struck me. 1 know well 
how I would feel if I had to do without them. I could bear almost 
anything but that. 1 never thought that there would be much difficulty 
in getring books from England. Ever since I got your letter three days 
ago 1 have been trying to find books from the library which I might 
send you. Then I went to Kitabistan.^ There was not much to choose. 
Still I picked up a few odd books and these were sent to you by 
parcel post today. I hope they reach you. One never knows what 
happens to letters and parcels during these war days. 

1 enclose a list of the books sent. I have not read several of them 
but they seemed interesting . . . Capek"* is always worth reading. The 
Oxford Book of English Verse is a very good collection. Kropotkin’s^ 
book is an old classic — perhaps heavy reading but still often 
e.xtraordinarily interesting. I have added Arnold’s^ two little books: 

1. ‘The RoUier Charity Sale’. 

2. Refers to letter dated 9 February 1940 (No. 236). 

2 A publishing house in Allahabad. 

Karel Capek: Czech journalist, playwright and writer. 

3 1 etcr Alexeisich Kropotkin; Russian geographer, revolutionary and social philosopher. 
Sir Edwin Arnold: English poet and journalist; Tlic Ligla of Asia was a poem on the life 
and teachings of Buddha. 



TIte Light of Asia and The Soug Celestial. 

It must be pretty bad for you if you have to faU back on Gliwpses of 
Histor}>\ Somebody would have to give me a prize if he wanted me to 
read it again. It was bad enough to revise it. I refused to read the 

Has not Dr RoUier suggested some hand-work for you? I thought 
that was a part of his treatment and a very good part too. I almost felt 
like sending you a takli.^ I have been spinning off and on recendy, 
that is when I am in Allahabad, and I find it very soothing. You can 
knit as you did in England. Or play about with cardboard. I hear 
children in the Basic Schools here make delightful boxes and other 
things out of cardboard. It is a fascinating pastime. 

But I do hope that by the time this reaches you, you will be moving 
about a litde more. Spring will be nearing then and the breath of it 
will invigorate you. I wish I could transfer some might from my body 
to yours. I have been growing disgustingly plump. Perhaps I exaggerate, 
but the tendency is there and I am worried about it. Indian clothes, 
both dhoti and pyjamas, adjust themselves to any size of waist and one 
does not notice changes in its size. When I went to China in Augyst 
last, I put on European clothes and I discovered immediately that all 
was not well. The other day in Bombay I weighed myself and I was 
horrified to find that I had gone up to 143 pounds. Tliis was 3 lbs 
more than I have ever been. Another weigliing machine a fortnight 
later gave me 135 pounds as my weight, which was much more 
satisfactory. Probably both the machines were wrong. Anyway I have 
had a fright and after a long gap, I have taken to some kind of physical 
exercises again when I am in Allahabad. 

I have seen again and again the technicolor photos of you that 
Feroze sent me. They are very fine and I love looking at them. 

Makklii Atal’s” marriage with Ganga Raina is coming off here in 
two or three days and there are numerous parties and feasts. The 
world may go bang but an Indian marriage must take place in the old 
style, with aU the usual waste. I never feel more out of place than at 
these feasts and indeed I hardly ever go there. But on this occasion I 
must put in an appearance once at least, lest all manner of wrong 

1. Spindle. 

2. Jai Kumar Atal; .served in the Indian Foreign Service; married Ganga Rama, the 
granddaughter of Raja Narendranath R^ina, a distinguished civil servant of Lahore, 
whose daughter, Rameshwari, was married to Bnjlal Nehru. 



political inferences might be drawn. 

Why did you not get a copy of Glimpses'? This is absurd. It was not 
necessary for me to mention this to Krishna. He ought to have known. 
But as a matter of fact I sent him a list of persons to whom 
complimentary copies should be sent and your name topped the list. 
Please ask Krishna to have a copy sent to you or to Mile HemmerUn. 

In reading any serious book (I am not referring to Glimpses) it 
would be a good thing if you took copious notes. This slows down 
the pace of reading and allows time to think and absorb the book. 
Othenvise the book leaves only a fleeting impression and too many 
fleeting impressions, one after the other, create confusion. I always 
remember that Erasmus (or some other big scholar of the Middle 
Ages) had a library of only fifty or sixty volumes. And yet he was one 
of the wisest and most learned of men. 

I am vasdy interested in your account of the stroboscope and of 
Nylon. I know nothing about them but your account of them is 
exciting. All our day-to-day politics seem so silly and childish when 
such discoveries are made, which might change human life so much. 

I wish you could send me some more information about these two — 
that IS if you can easily do so. 

It is almost a year now, or at least ten months, since I saw you. It 
seems an age, and I long to have a gfimpse of you again. Every little 
while, whether I am at work or in a crowd, my mind wanders away 
and centres itself round you, and the desire to be near you almost 
overwhelms me. You are lonely at Leysin. There is also a lonefiness in 
the midst of crowds. If there is no other way, I might not be able to 
restrain myself fi-om packing up a suitcase and taking a plane to Europe! 

And now to other work. So goodbye for the present, carissima mia, 
and may it be well with you. 




List of Books 

k Literature and Society — David Daiches 
2. Tlie Mother — Karel Capek 

Week-End Caravan — S. HiUelson 
4. Ding Dong Bell — ^Walter De La Mare 



5. The Oxford Book of English Verse 1250-1918 — Sir Arthur 

6. The Dragon Book — E. D. Edwards 

7. The Light of Asia — Sir Edwin Arnold 

8. The Song Celestial — Sir Edwin Arnold 

9. Ur of the Chaldees — Sir Leonard Woolley, Pelican Books 

10. Mutual Aid — Prince Peter Kropotkin, Pelican Books 


Anand Bhatmt}, 
27th February, 1940 

My darling one, 

I am happy to learn that you were feeling better and that cod liver oil 
and phytine, qui forme la partie essentielle du principe phosphore,^ etc., are 
doing you good. I am sure that Avith the coming of somewhat milder 
weather you will gain in appetite and weight. I do not suppose you 
will ever be a heavy weight or wall have to indulge in Hay diet^ or 
something else in order to slim. You are not made that way. But your 
weight should be at least 100 pounds. It will be that presently when 
you move about. 

You complain of your pen. I am myself feeling very sad at present 
for I have just lost my favourite one. I guard nothing so jealously as 
my fountainpens, especially those that I Hke. But at this afternoon’s 
tea party I was giving autographs and something unusual happened 
to it. It has disappeared. 

I am not depressed, Cara mia, although the world, as well as my 
own particular world, goes all awry. I have become completely behaya? 
If you want to know what depression is you should read Krishna’s"* 
letters to me. He works himself up terribly and, bad as the world is, 
imagines all manner of things which are worse. And then, with many 
apologies, he gives me a lot of good advice, not knowing how I would 

1. Which forms the essential part of phosphorus. 

2. Hay diet: fashionable diet regime in the 1930s. 

3. Shameless. 

4. Refers toV.K. Krishna Menon. 



take it all. I like him of course to give the good advice. It helps. But I 
\vish he would not get so excited. It is not good for him. His nerves 
have never been his strong point. 

The Atal-Raina wedding has taken place with all pomp and 
circumstance. It was the first Kashmiri wedding I attended since my 
own! Puphi’s wedding in 1921 was not a full-blooded Kashmiri one 
and apart fiom that I have attended no other similar function. Chhoti 
Puphi’s was a simple registration ceremony. I was glad I went as this 
enabled me to see the new generation. Children whom I knew long 
ago were grown-up boys and girls and young women. The picture in 
nVj' mind had remained static and it was surprising for me to discover 
how they had grown. They looked an attractive crowd. Ganga looked 
very pretty in her wedding dress but exactly like a doU. 

Cheers! Upadhyaya has discovered my pen. So aU is well. You will 
notice the change in the writing. 

I have gone through vast numbers of odd papers and destroyed 
them or filed them. Indeed my room has undergone a spring cleaning 
and I have even rearranged my books. I started doing this rather 
casually one evening after dinner and went on and on till two thirty 
a.m. At that attractive and witching hour the floor of my room was 
full of books and papers lying in complete disorder! The next day 
was devoted to arranging them. 

I must go now. A hurried dinner and then to the station. 

All my love, 


Amnd Bhawan, 
2nd March, i940 

Darling Indu, 

1 have come back from Patna. The Working Committee passed only 
one resolution for the Congress. I enclose a copy of this.^ 

The resolution, subsequently adopted at die annual session of the Congress at 
^mgarh, urges the Bntish Government to commit itself to conferring independence 
“Pon India after the war, and also constituting a Provincial Government with the 
pitticipanon of the nationalist leadership. 



Apart from political work, I visited a very interesting private 
collection in Patna. It was surprising to find a Marwari businessman 
developing into an art collector. He lives in a lovely house by the 
riverside and he has gathered together many fascinating articles, 
especially a fine collection of old Chinese jade. There are good 
examples of old Sevres and Gobefins. A part of the dinner service of 
Marie Antoinette, a writing cabinet of Henry II, King of France, very 
beautiful Arabic, Persian manuscripts, old German statuettes, shawls, 
a piece of old Dacca muslin ten yards weighing 714 tolas^ — just imagine 
the gossamer fineness of it! And so many other things which I had 
hardly time to see. He has also built a small but very deUghtful guest- 
house overlooking the river Ganga. 

After a few days I shall have to return to Behar for the Congress 
which is being held at Ramgarh in Chhota Nagpur. This . . . [place] is 
hilly and beautiful. So I have decided to take two days off and motor 
slowly through Chhota Nagpur just before the Congress. 

You are always in my thoughts and I imagine you growing stronger 
and stronger — a real Diana. 




Les Praxes, 
3rd March, 1940 

Papu, you great darling! 

How very thoughtful of you to send all those books! As a matter of 
fact I ought to have exerted myself in that direction long ago but most 
books are so expensive and at this distance I found it difficult to choose 
the ones I wished to buy. However, about a week and a half ago, I did 
order some books from Blackwell’s in Oxford (I have an account 
with them); 

Laski’s The Danger of Being a Gentleman 
Vera Brittain’s Testament of Friendship 

1. One tola is equal to ten grams. 



D.N. Pritt’s Must the War Spread? a Penguin Special 
Gallocha’s The Chosen Few — a pamphlet 
T.S. Eliot, Waste Land & other poems 
Stephen Spender, Poems 

So far I have not heard from Blackwell’s. Thanks so much for your 
lot. I do hope they arrive safely, all of them, and soon. 

I am so glad you liked the colour pictures. As a matter of fact I had 
them taken specially for you. The original intention was to have them 
printed in England — the things you have now are the negatives — 
and to send you the prints. But this is rather an expensive process; 4 
sh per copy! The best way to see them is either through an ordinary 
projector, in which case you have to have a screen as well, by the way. 
I wonder if the old Pathe projector that used to lie about in Anand 
Bhawan will do. I suppose not. The other way is through a special 
gadget which I looked at in Lucerne. In S-witzerland it costs 50 francs — 
at the present rate of exchange, nearly Do you think it is worth 
buying? If so, I’U ask the local photographer to procure one. 

I have two lots of hand-work going at the same time but I don’t 
get along very fast nowadays; almost aU the morning & afternoon I 
have to he on my tummy, resting on my elbows. In this position I 
find It difficult to do anything but read — though now I am practising 
writing letters as well. Between four & four thirty p.m. I get up — 
since this last fortnight. I go for a short walk, walking very very slowly 
for about fifteen to thirty minutes, & then sit either with the Nanavatis 
next door or in the lounge downstairs until six p.m. 

Since I have been getting up, 1 have gained 700 grams: just over VA 
Ibs.Total gain since arrival two and a half months ago equals 2^/s lbs! 
Yesterday when Dr RoUier came I asked him about how long I should 
have to stay on at Les Frenes, since my three months would be up on 
the 15th. ‘Encore quelques mots' — some more months still — ^was the 
reply, whatever that may mean! So that’s that. 

I miss you so much and long to see you and to be near you. But 
even when all these wretched months here are over, I shall have to 
stay in the mountains in India for about two years. There is no such 
thing as a comfortable hotel in India, except in the big cities, and I 
know of no one who could come & set up house for me for that long 
period. Last year we saw how very difficult & complicated it was to 
stay up in Almora even for one and a half months. Puphi was eager to 
be back home in Bombay & there was aU the trouble over the servants. 



Mrs Nanavati here suggests that I go and stay with them, for she has 
to keep Mr Nanavati in the hills too. But her idea of mountains are 
Devlali, or at most, Mahableshwar. Dr Bhandari thinks I ought to stay 
in Kashmir during the whole period, not once descending into the 
plains. The only person I can think of who is more or less free is Nani 
and I could hardly expect her to go for walks with me. Can you 
suggest something? Even if the ‘quelques mois' means four months — 
that takes us to July. I should then like to go to England just to collect 
my belongings & then sail towards the end of August. 

Nylon is just a small part in this new artificial world which the 
chemists are bringing into being. And what great strides they have 
taken these last twenty years. At the end of the Great War, as Dr Stine 
of the Du Pont Co. points out, ‘sheep, plants, & worms supplied the 
fibers for our textiles. Bone, hides, tusks, horn, the saps and barks of 
trees, the excretions of insects & animal life and countless other 
products as ancient as commerce filled motor trucks & freight cars 
and the holds of ships, just as they made up the burdens of caravans 
in the days of Marco Polo.^ We were building and designing better 
homes, but of the same materials — stones, brick and wood — of which 
homes had been made for thousands of years. We were wearing the 
same clothing that our grandfathers wore, merely cut to a new style 
& woven by machine instead of by hand.’ In India this is where we 
still stand. But in Europe & America things have been changing slowly 
but very surely. And this is not in spite of wars but because of them, 
and foreign trade, embargoes, tariffs and even occasional scarcity of 
and lack of uniformity of raw materials. And now, every few days, in 
newspapers we read of yet another ‘miracle’ from this or that great 
chemical laboratory — ‘wool’ from milk; alcohol, rubber and false teeth 
from gas; liquorice from old tree stumps — or a new way to poison 
grasshoppers. Man has been imitating nature and yet you cannot call 
these things that he has produced mere imitation, for they are not 
only quite different articles even in their chemical compositions, but 
in many ways superior to the natural product. Thus we can now 
make true daylight and by using a compound of iodine & quinine in 
coating a glass take away the glare from it, even from bright sunshine! 

1. Marco Polo (1254-1324); Italian traveller; journeyed to China, Sumatra, India and 
Persia; captured by the Genoese and imprisoned for a year at Genoa (1298), where he 
dictated to a fellow prisoner the story of his travels, published under the tide of 77ic 
Book of Marco Polo. 



‘Polaroid’ is the name of this new material. It is just a film of tiny 
needle-shaped crystals containing iodine and quinine, all lying parallel 
and fixed between two sheets of glass or transparent plastic. One can 
look through several thicknesses of a Polaroid sheet if they are on 
top of the other, or m a roU. But if a corner of the sheet is turned up, 
the parallel slots are crossed and no light may pass through & Polaroid 
becomes completely opaque. Polaroid is used in spectacles, reading 
lamps, camera filters, etc — also for motor car headlights, in which 
case it helps considerably in making night driving safer. 

Yet another example of man outwitting — or rather, improving on — 
nature is glass. Nature made obsidian, or glass, in volcanoes. It was in 
chunks. Now man spins it; from a common glass marble he can 
unwind a ninety-mile filament, finer than spiderweb; or he can twist 
it and make it as strong as piano wire. 

Insects may eat ordinary sawed boards. But man can now stop this 
waste. He can take trees or old stumps, digest them, recover the fibre, 
and rearrange it to make his own boards that cannot split or stain or 

No less wonderful is ‘Lucite’, a new addition to the plastic family. 
Through Lucite, light flows like water in a pipe, it is even carried 
around a bend! Lucite instruments are mostly used in surgery & 
dentistry, to illuminate body and oral cavities without the risk of 
burning the patient, for the light coming through the rod is quite 

I must stop or I’U go on and on, for the story of the chemical 
industries is not the least fascinating and wonderful amongst all the 
marvels of this world of ours. 

Heaps & heaps of love, 


Les Frenes, 
9th March, 1940 

Darling Papu, 

I have just been reading — in the National Herald — ^your article on 
Russia & the Finnish war. Also the use that is being made, in England, 



of your statements on the subject. You seemed to be shocked equally 
by the Russo-German Pact and the war on Finland. And yet, doesn’t 
the responsibility of both rest heavily on these eight years of British 
foreign policy? At Munich, England and France proved definitely on 
which side they stood. Russia’s policy of collective security having 
failed, she retired into her pre-Litvinov^ isolation and her chief 
preoccupation was bound to be how to keep herself out of the 
impending European war. (Hence the advance into the Baltic.) The 
Russo-German Pact was certainly not a change of front, since 
Germany primarily asked no more of Russia than that this isolation 
should continue. And the pact has not made any difference to the 
Soviet Union’s condemnation of Nazism and Imperialism — ^viz 
Molotov’s^ speech in November, or the Manifesto of the Commumst 
International on the present war. As to Finland, you agree that the 
Soviet Union’s demands were justified. Why, then, did the war come 
as such a shock to you? Did you expect the Soviet Union, after her 
demands had been rejected at the instigation of the Allies, to sit back 
& say no more about it until the whole war should be directed against 
her? For such was — is still — the intention of the Allies, as the British 
press is at no pains to conceal. 

All this talk of poor Finland makes me sick. Just because a country 
is small in size, do the crimes of its Government lessen also and does 
its repression & totalitarianism likewise become softer & more 
bearable to its people & the people of the world? 

Darling, don’t bother about my fits of depression. They come & 
go and don’t really matter one bit. 

With lots & lots of love. 

1 . Maxim Maximovich Litvinov: Soviet statesman and diplomat; as Foreign Minister, 
1930-9 he was in favour ofa joint front with the democratic countries in the 1930s; 
Soviet Ambassador to U.S., 1941-3. 

2. Vyacheslav Mikhailovich Molotov: Soviet statesman and politician; Prime Mmister, 
1930-41, and Foreign Minister, 1939-49, 1953-6. 




Anand Bhawan, 
11th March, 1940 


Your letter of the 20th February’ has just come. It does not make 
cheerful reading. I long to help you or to do something for you but I 
feel so helpless. Not only are you far finm me, with a major war coming 
in the way, but otherwise too I am hardly capable of even advising. 

Thinking about you so often, it has struck me how little we have 
been together during these years, especially since 1930. You were a 
babe in arms when I became entangled in non-cooperation and the 
bke and for some years I saw you irregularly. Then we were together 
in Geneva for some months before you went to Chesieres. From 
1930 onwards I was often in prison and you were first at the Poona 
school and then at Santiniketan. Later Switzerland, Bristol, Oxford, 
etc. You came to India in 1937 and I went to Europe in 1938. Again 
you came to India for a few months but even here you were mosdy at 
Almora. It is almost a year since you went. 

Long ago when you were at Mussoorie and I was in Allahabad, I 
tned to fill the gap created by your absence by writing to you those 
letters which came out later as a little book. I continued this practice 
because it soothed me and pleased me and supplied something that I 
lacked. I seldom thought of writing books, I was thinking of you. But 
books resulted. 

During all these years of separation and thinking of you, you came 
very close to me, or rather the image I made of you became almost part 
of me. But then that was a creature of my thought. You were far away. 

I moved about in crowds, my days filled with incessant activity. 
The crowds gave something to me of value but they took a lot out of 
me. Gradually I came to realise that while perhaps I understood crowds 
a little, I did not understand individuals. Probably this deficiency, 
which distressed me, was innate in me and had Httle to do with the 
crowds or my activity. 

I reabsed with something of a shock how little one person really 
knows another, and how often those that are nearest and dearest to us 

1- Letter not traceable. 


• TWO alone, two together • 

are almost as strangers to us. I had read this somewhere in French 
poetry and hardly realised its significance. This knowledge, with all 
its disturbing consequences, came to me. I had learnt much in the 
passage of years, but I had failed in the hard test of life. I had proved 
incompetent and life is hard on the incompetents. The success that 
had apparently come to me and made me known to large numbers 
covered a failure in much that counts in the life of the individual. 

Public and private life act and react on each other, and this sense 
of failure has pursued me in almost all I do. With this lack of faith in 
myself, how can I advise anyone? What right have I to interfere in 
another’s life? I have not made my own a brilliant success and aU my 
good intentions, or so I imagined they were, have not prevented me 
often from making a mess of things. In my pride I thought that I 
could do great things, but life has humbled me and shown me the 
error of my thought. 

So, my darling, I am a poor kind of person to seek advice from. 
Everything that I can possibly give you is yours for the asking, but do 
not seek advice from me for my mind is disturbed and lacks clarity. 

I had written to you that I intended going by car to Ramgarh from 
Patna. Now aU that is off and I am staying on in Allahabad till the last 
moment, that is the 14th night. This is at the bidding of Maulana Abul 
Kalam Azad, our new President. He has written his presidential address 
in Urdu and he wants me to translate it into English. I am no good at 
this job and have never done any translation work — except from Latin 
in school. Yesterday I spent about eight hours over it, wrestling with 
Maulana ’s graceful and flowery Urdu. 

Maulana is a curious type, very attractive. He reminds me very 
forcibly of eighteenth-century Rationalists and French Encyclopaedists.' 
That does not mean that he is reactionary but he is out of touch with 
many modern developments. Maulana has got a mind like a razor 
which cuts through a fog of vague ideas — only it functions in the 
atmosphere of eighteenth-fit early nineteenth-century Europe. It is 
always a pleasant surprise to realise that a person whose education 

1. Encyclopaedists: the collaborators in the 35-volume Encyclopaedia published under 
the direction of Diderot and d’Alembert between 1751 and 1776. Contributors 
incJudedVbltaire.Montesquieu.J.J.Rousseau and other briUiant writers and embodied 
the philosophical spirit of the eighteenth century, its attempt to give a rational 
explanation of the universe being marked by a love of truth and contempt for 



has been entirely a religious one, and who is steeped in Muslim 
religious lore should be so rational and keen-minded. If he had had 
the chance to learn well one or more European languages and had 
thus come more in contact with modern thought, he would have 
been a very remarkable person. Even now he tries to grapple with 
these problems and succeeds more than many others. 

You might have heard that one of the Imperial Airway liners 
disappeared somewhere en route to Europe from India. This was 
carrying mails and it appears that these mails included a ;4^50 remittance 
to your bank. I think I wrote to you about this. It is not certain yet 
whether this remittance order has been lost or not. Anyway I have 
asked Bachhraj to send you another ^50 immediately. 

I have sent you during the last week or two some new pictures of 
mine. They were recently taken and I thought they might interest 
you. You can pass them on to others. One of them was taken in my 
room. I was sitting at my writing table, as I am doing now. So much of 
my life is spent at this table that this picture is characteristic. 

All my love to you, my dear one. 
Your loving, 


Les Frenes, 
12th March, 1940 

Darling Papu, 

Your two letters — of Feb. 27th, March 2nd* arrived together last 
evening, also the Working Committee resolutions. 

And well may Krishna be depressed. There is cause enough. In 
the B.B.C. news last evening we learnt of Chamberlain’s announcement 
in the House that Great Britain & France will help Finland to their 
utmost capacity.^ So the war with Russia that England has been wanting. 

t- Refers to letters No. 239 and No 240. 

• On 11th March Chamberlain announced that the Allies would respond to Finnish 
appeals for help against the Russian invasion but peace was signed in Moscow on 
12th March and hostilities between Russia and Finland ceased on 13th March. The 
Finns handed Hango to the Russians on 22nd March. 



& preparing for, these many months is upon us and once England is 
in, India will be automatically in and there will be yet another occasion 
for all the Maharajahs to show their loyalty and generosity and 
abhorrence of aggression & inhumanity’! Well may we be depressed — 
this is a fight that we have long expected, and now that it has come we 
are ill-prepared to face it. The National Govt, is not fighting against 
one Mr Stalin’s aggression but against the liberties and rights and the 
restricted semblance of power for which the lower classes have 
sacrificed and struggled and in spite of many defeats, advanced step 
by step, not today nor yesterday but through hundreds of years. 

When I am feeling particularly fed up, there come to my mind, 
the last words of Mayakovski:^ 

Futile to pass in review 
the sorrows 
the misfortunes 
and mutual wrongs. 

Be Happy! 

By the way, in those ‘Agfa-colour’ pictures, did you notice the 
flowers? They are so small that it is difficult to photograph them except 
in a close-up. But in one or two pictures, I believe, you can see marsh 
marigolds and gentians. Surely, all these flowers exist in Kashmir? 
They ought even to be in Almora, if climate is anything to go by. And 
yet one never hears of them, nor are they used in designs for wood 
carving & embroidery as the lotus & rose & iris are in Kashrmr. I 
wonder why? Is it because, in India as so often in the hotter countries, 
most flowers are so big and bright and gaudy that these small, delicate 
and modest heralds of spring are passed by unnoticed? 

I suppose the Ramgarh Congress will mean a family reunion, or 
isn’t Chhoti Puphi coming with Rajabhai? She writes to me, ‘To me 
it seems rather futile staying on in Switzerland’ and ‘I hear from a 
friend that Leysin is not a very [pleasant?] place’. What does she 
imagine I am doing here? I can’t think — ^perhaps going the round of 
parties, such as form the social life of the ‘elect’ in India. 

Lots of love — darling Papu, 



1. Vladimir Vladimirovich Mayakovski: Russian poet and playwright, identified with 
the futurist school. He committed suicide in 1930. 




19th March, 1940 


Your letter of the 3rd March^ did reach me at Ramgarh. Soon after I 
had to go to the opening session of the Congress and there many 
adventures befell all of us. It was a magnificent sight. An enormous 
arena, well filled with colourful people, with artistic gates leading 
into it. At the back were low hills and a small river gurgled at their 
foot. Dark clouds covered the sky. They were threatening, for if they 
brought rain the open air session became difficult. But the threat 
apart, it was a perfect setting. The whole audience was sitting in an 
enormous natural bowl. We waited for the President and Bapu to 
arrive for the formal presidential procession. Two bands were in 
readiness. And then it began to rain. Not merely to rain but to pour 
in torrents. Within a few seconds the scene changed. A few visitors 
left hurriedly but the vast numbers remained. But suddenly the people 
almost disappeared fi-om view. There was a sea of bamboo mattresses 
to be seen and many umbrellas. In order to protect themselves from 
the fierce onslaught of the pouring ram, the people picked up the 
mattresses they were sitting on and crept underneath them. I went 
about from place to place, getting thoroughly soaked in the process, 
and was delighted to find how cheerful almost everyone was. The 
women were specially in difficulties because of their saris. But it was 
a jolly crowd.The rain continued. Soon the bottom of the huge bowl, 
where the dais was situated, was a lake, two or three feet deep. Yet 
people stood in it. The President arrived. Bapu did not come. In 
spite of the rain the President insisted on starting the session. 
Unfortunately the loudspeakers failed just then, for their engines were 
completely under water. Still we began formally and after a few words 
of welcome from the Chairman of the Reception Committee, the 
President spoke for a while and then I proposed formally the one 
and only resolution for the Congress. This was seconded formally 
and thus the session was adjourned till tomorrow. 

We waded back through lakes of water. It was surprising how 
well everybody took these untoward occurrences. They were singing 

1 Refers to letter No 241 



and shouting slogans. And so we marched to our respective camps — 
a good distance. Here we found that most of our goods & chattels had 
got wet. The roofs were leaking all over the place. We shifted as best 
we could. It was vastly entertaining to see the leaders of the Congress 
sitting perched up in odd corners trying to escape the rain. 

It struck me that if conditions were so bad in this ‘Leaders’ Camp’ 
how much worse they must be in the delegates’ camps. So I went for 
a tour of these and especially visited some of our guests from abroad. 
Everywhere I found jolly groups almost enjoying their discomforts. I 
felt quite exhilarated by the experience and sensed the strong bond 
that united us aU in a common endeavour. 

Many of us spent the whole evening in fixing up people, providing 
extra blankets, and in putting on extra mats on some of our roofs. 
And thus at last, late at night, we retired. That was not such an easy 
matter for it was difficult to escape the rain dripping from the roof 
I shall write to you more later. 

All my love. 
Your loving, 


Les Frines, 
22nd March, i940 


The Sunne shone 

Upon my bed with bright bemes. 

With many glad gilden stremes. 

And eke the welkin was so faire. 

Blew, bright, clere was the air. 

Years ago I read this, or may be even learnt it by heart, at school. And 
all of a sudden, as I was doing my ‘Plut-ventre’ out on the balcony, it 
came back to me this morning. It’s Chaucer, isn’t it? 

And you are so sad^ that it took all the blue, clear brightness out of 

1. Refers to letter dated 11 March 1940 (No. 243). 



my sky. It filled me with a great sadness, and above all, with a great 
longing to be with you. It is httle enough that I can do for you, but if 
my mere presence can be of any comfort to you, it is only right that I 
should be with you. And I do so want to be. Here we are, miles away 
from each other, both so lonely, and needing each other so. There is 
no point in my staying here. 

There is no doubt that I am better now than when I arrived over 
three months ago — ^but not much. I look slightly better, I breathe 
much better. In weight I have gained 3 lbs, my present weight being 
8514 Ibs.Just about a month ago I started getting up m the afternoons — 
starting with fifteen minutes and now for two and a half hours, during 
which 1 go for a short walk. On the other hand, that perpetual fatigue 
I used to feel is still a faithful companion, my appetite is not improving 
and I eat very litde with great effort, and I don’t sleep at aU well. Last 
Sunday Lady Maharaj Singh' came to lunch with me & collared the 
Professor for a talk about me. The Professor told her that I should stay 
at Les Frenes for a year more, i.e. until spring 1941. And apparently 
he seemed to take it for granted that I would do so! This news has 
upset me considerably. 

Personally I’d like to leave as soon as possible. I’m not saying that 
Leysm hasn’t done me any good or that these three months have 
been wasted. But, having given me this direction, there is nothing 
more Leysin can do for me. 

I have a very strong — almost overpowering — desire to go to India. 
It obsesses me. Most of the time I would probably be more alone 
than I am here but perhaps you would be able to visit me now and 
then, which, of course, is infinitely better than not seeing you at all. 
With a good and inteUigent ayah, I feel 1 would get along better than 
if I stayed on here, for I would have more mental calm. 

But, of course, all this is as yet just a castle in Spain. I must do 
whatever the doctors advise. I do hope they wiU let me come. 

The books 1 ordered from Blackwell’s have arrived. I have just 
finished reading Stefan Zweig’s Les Hemes Etoilees de I’Htmiaiiite, and 
have now begun Zweig’s biography of Tolstoy in French.^ 

On Tuesday came Dr Hilary Roche, the Montana doctor I wrote 

1. Lady Maharaj Singh: wife ofSir Maharaj Singh of the princely family ofKapurthala 
State He was a brother of Rajkumari Amnt Kaur, close associate of Mahatma 

2. Stefan Zweig (1881-1942): Austrian author. 



to you about. I liked him. He is Australian. From his wdfe he brought 
me a pot of lovely sweet-smelhng hyacinths, so that now my room is 
all a-bloom with spring and fragrant with lovely scents. I do love 
flowers and colour. 

Yesterday I went to tea with rather an eccentric Irishwoman. Her 
father was a general in India twenty years ago. She’s been ill since the 
age of six but is practically all right now. She has given me some 
books on Irish poetry to read. 

From aU this you will think that I meet a lot of people & have 
quite a social life! But this week has been exceptional. Most days I 
just go for my Httle lonely walk & then back to the little gossiping 
group of Les Frenes patients whose main topics of conversation are: 
food & the strangers who pass by on the road below. Sometimes \vc 
play cards & that passes the time . . . 

Lots of love, darling mine, 



AnanA Bhaum, 
23rd March, 1940 

Darling Indu, 

Yesterday we came back to Allahabad from Ramgarh via Gaya. I found 
to my joy three envelopes, with your familiar handwriting, waiting 
for me here. 

I could not get proper accommodation in the train for Allahabad 
as vast numbers of people were departing that day. So we decided to 
go to Gaya and spend a day there. We did so and visited the Bodh 
Gaya temple and for a while forgot the India of today and lived in the 
brave old days when Gautama flourished. In the afternoon wc 
motored seventy-five miles to the excavations of Nalanda, the old 
university where our fi-iend Hiuen Tsang^ studied for fourteen years 
and became a Master of the Law. I was surprised to find how big this 
place was. It had been planned on a vast scale, or rather it had grown 

1. Hiuen Tsang (A0 600-664): Buddliist monk, scholar and traveller of Chinese origin, 
who came to India during die reign of the Emperor Harsliavardhana in the seventh 
century, and stayed for more than a decade. His account of what he saw and observed 
during his stay in India throws valuable light on the country during this period. 



with the years, for the university flourished for 800 years. 

From Nalanda we went to Rajgir, or Rajgriha as it used to be 
called m the old days when the Chinese pilgrim Fa Hien^ came and 
described it. There are hot springs here which, they say, contain 
radium. But India has a habit of giving everything a religious 
significance and these springs became a place for pilgrimage with the 
attendant pandas exploiting the pilgrims. Many people came for cures 
but there was nothing like the development one sees m Europe 
wherever such springs exist. We bathed in these springs and the water 
was delightfully refiresliing. It was just hot enough to be comfortably 
borne. Probably some enterprising syndicate will develop the place 
within the next few years and bottle the water for sale. 

And then back to Gaya, stopping en route at Pawapuri, a great place 
of Jain pilgrimage, where Mahavira died or, as they say, attained maha 
nirvana. Here, in the middle of a beautiful lotus-covered lake, stands a 
lovely temple. It is lovely from a distance, not so from near by, for our 
worthy Jain millionaires have lavished money on it and succeeded in 
converting it into a cross between a gorgeous lavatory and a seaside 
pier with the most blatant electric posts and marble everywhere. They 
love marble. 

All this was tiring but I enjoyed it, as I always enjoy my new 
discoveries of India. I am always discovering something new in this 
wonderful land and the hold of India grows upon me. Long ago — do 
you remember it? — ^when we were travelling in the air-conditioned 
coach in Malaya towards Penang, I sat down to write an essay on the 
Discovery of India. I wrote only a few lines then though my mind 
was full of ideas. That unfinished sheet is stiU with me. I suppose I 
shall write on the subject one day, for it grows upon me.^ 

You seem to be thinking already of the difficulties of housekeeping 
in Kashmir or the hills. I do not myself see why you should spend 
the winter in the hills or in Kashmir, but if you want to do so there 
will be no difficulty about it. Remember that India is a very friendly 
place, especially for us, and wherever you might go you will find 
friends who want to help. Housekeeping on a small scale offers no 

F Fa Hien (aD 399-414);a Buddhist priest from China;author and traveller;journeyed 
overland to India and spent about ten years there during the reign of Chandragupta 
II (AD 376-415); wrote an account of his travels, and translated Buddhist texts. 

2. This refers to a brief manuscript which Jawaharlal later developed into a book, The 
Discovery of India. 



difficulty. I have lived in Anand Bhawan all by myself for months and 
the cook has done what he liked about housekeeping. I have never 
even asked him anything about it. It may be that I could have saved a 
little money otherwise. But it was not worthwhile and I wanted peace. 

A crowd of Burmese have descended upon us tonight. They are 
of the Dobama Thakin party, a kind of young socialists, whom you 
might perhaps remember. I expected five of them here but nine turned 
up, to the discomfiture of the cook, Hari' and others. It was dinnertime 
and there was not enough room at the table. So we had a stand-up 
dinner and the food was just sufficient. Enough beds were found 
with some difficulty. All these nine are crowded up in the big guest 
room, but most of them are sleeping on the verandah. Your room was 
unoccupied but I do not like other people taking possession of it, 
though sometimes I have to put up with this. So many people come 
to see me and often put up with us. Your room remains as you left it. 
I have often shifted books and other things in my room, but yours 
remains unchanged. I prefer it so. 

Tonight is the Holt night and tomorrow is the festival. Here is a 
litde poem which might interest you. It is by A.E. Hou.sman:^ 

Yonder see the morning blink; 

The sun is up, and up must I, 

To wash and dress and eat and drink 
And look at things and talk and think 
And work, and God knows why. 

Oh often have I washed and dressed 
And what’s to show for all my pain? 

Let me lie abed and rest: 

Ten thousand times I’ve done my best 
And all’s to do again. 

Your loving, 

1. valet to Motilal Nehru; after his death attached himself to Jaw.ahprkl Nehru. 

2. Alfred Edward Housman (1859-1936): English classical scholar and poet; Professor 
of Latin, University College, London, 1892-1911, and Cambridge. 191 1-36. 




Anand Bhawan, 
7th April, 1940 

Darling Indu, 

I have been spending some days in a camp on the other side of the 
Jumna. The camp routine occupied every minute of the day and 
sometimes a bit of the night also and it was almost impossible to 
write there. 

I want so much to see you and touch you and hear you, but I am 
not fool enough to allow my wishes to interfere with your treatment. 
Oxford IS out of the question now, and you have more or less decided 
to return to India. The sooner you come the better, certainly, but that 
sooner must not be at the cost of your health. 

I suggest that you should now wait for the advice of your doctors. 

It was a delightful and worthwhile experience for us middle-aged 
folk, feeble of limb and short of breath, and some actually unwell, to 
try to live the strenuous life of a volunteer camp. We were driUed and 
made to do exercises and sentry duty, and spinning of course, and 
first aid, games, etc, etc. Up in the morning at five thirty — ^fights out, 
in theory at nine thirty p.m. It was all very ridiculous for us to behave 
like boy scouts, but there was a deeper and a psychological aspect for, 
by doing so, we raised the idea of volunteering. After more than thirty 
years I seized hold of a cricket bat again. After eighteen years I played 
volley-ball, and played it rather well. Volley-ball became the favourite 
game, and fiercely contested matches were played. 

We lived on the other side of the Jumna and 1 made fi-iends with 
her and became her ardent admirer. What a lovely river she is and 
how she used to change her colour and her mood as the day 
progressed. In the early dawn she was a sight of rare beauty and even 
the ugly waterworks building on the other side caught the spell and 
seemed almost like a moated castle. 

At mght we had camp fires and folk songs — delightful village songs 
sung in the village way. Some of the villagers from the surrounding 
'Ullages trooped in and joined. 

Have you heard that Charlie Andrews — Uncle Charlie — died two 
days ago in a Calcutta nursing home? He had been ill for a long time 
and had been operated upon several times. His death has distressed 



me greatly. I do not know that I have ever come across a more lovable 
or more generous-hearted man. In these days of hatred and passion 
and conflict, it is good to remember this man who was so childlike, 
so foolish sometimes, and yet so utterly devoid of hatred or ill-will 
against anyone, and so full of love and goodwill. If there is such a 
thing as Godliness, he had it. It is very sad to think that he is no more. 

I fear Gurudeva’ cannot last very long. He grows weaker and 
weaker as his eightieth birthday approaches. Charlie’s death must have 
been a terrible blow to him. India changes. The old guard fade away. 
The old lamps go out and it is not clear what the new ones are like. 

Your loving, 


Les Frenes, 
13th April, 1940 

Darling Papu, 

I have been reading, in the Reader’s Digest, a condensation from the 
book Flowering Earth by D.C. Peattie.^ I am sure it would fascinate 
you, as it did me. It is the story of green life — the plant kingdom — 
upon the earth. Is it not wonderful, the oneness of life? It is ever a 
source of marvel to me how intrinsically the fates of aU living things 
are bound together and how dependent on one another they are. It 
makes one humble and awed and proud all at once to feel that 
fundamentally this life which keeps us breathing is the same as the 
life in Psilophyton, wliich was no more than the ‘dim beginning of an 
idea for a plant’ — 350,000,000 years ago. Or maybe we could go back 
yet another half a billion years & more to the very earliest form of 
life — the iron bacteria! Humble to feel how very minute and negligible 
one is in the midst of all this grandeur, and proud to know that being 
so small, one is yet not insignificant, that one is an organic part of this 
great Wonder, that one does contribute to making this world what it 

1 . Rabindranatli Tagore. 

2. D.C. Peatde: American botanist and writer. 



IS, in spite of everything, more marvellous and beautiful than even 
our tiny brains can grasp. And one’s mind, D. H. Lawrence says, ‘has 
no existence by itself, it is only the glitter of the sun on the surface of 
the waters’. He goes on to say: 

what we want is ... to reestablish the living organic connections 
with the cosmos, the sun and earth, with mankind and nation 
and family. But how? How, when all our sense of values has 
gone crooked, when life is dominated not by the living organic 
connection but by the false inorganic connections, not by the 
sun and earth but by money and the like — ^How? 

My love to you, darling mine, 



Les Frhtes, 
20th April, 1940 


Last evening’s Radio Rome news announced that Bapu had declared 
Civil Disobedience. I can’t help being glad. All success to you. Here 
is my body, so far from India & you, but the rest of me is quite near 
you and my mind is full of you every moment. 

Lots of love, darhng mine, 


25th April, 1940 

Darling Indu, 

I have been in Andheri for four or five days and it is very pleasant 
here, far better than Bombay. This house (it is Psyche’s) is well situated 
®d has a pleasant garden. It is a very old-fashioned house and the 
furniture belongs to some antique age. Everything is heavily carved 



and the rooms are overfii]] of these massive articles. I do not fancy this 
style. It is depressing and uncomfortable. But this is a minor point. 
The house is delightful and Psyche sees to it that I have a quiet and 
restful time. She herself hves in Bombay but comes here sometimes 
in the afternoons. 

This evening I went for a walk. I wanted to go to Juhu and I 
managed to reach there before it got dark. But the way back was 
more difficult as it was quite dark and I lost my way. Ultimately I took 
a bus to Santa Cruz (the busman refused to charge fares) and from 
there a taxi brought me. How helpless I get when I venture out by 
myself I am so used to not going anywhere or to being accompanied 
by someone, that by myself I get lost. Today was my first experience 
of a bus ride in Bombay. 

My love to you, my dear. 
Your loving, 

26tlt April, 1940 

Your account of D.C. Peattie’s book. Flowering Earth, is fascinating. I 
must try to get the book. Science, in all its manifold aspects, is almost 
a new adventure for your mind, but I have been thrilled by it for long 
years. Remember that at one time, long long ago, I studied chemistry 
and physics and geology and botany, and even took my degree in 
them. Science has given more faith and confidence and peace of mind 
than almost anything. Without it I would have been rudderless. For 
me it has taken the place of religion. But Science must be allied to 
life — to the earth — to flowers and trees and mountains and rivers, 
and human beings. Otherwise it is lifeless — ‘A little primrose by the 
brim, a yellow primrose was to him, and it was nothing more.’ 

Harsha and Ajit have just turned up and it is not possible to 
continue writing. 




Les Frenes, 
10th May, 1940 

Darling Papu, 

This is just a hurried line to reassure you — though I’m sure this letter 
will be hopelessly out of date by the time it reaches you.^ Don’t 
worry about me, darling. Even if the worst comes to the worst, as far 
as Switzerland is concerned, Leysin -will be quite safe. This morning 
two frontier towns were bombarded — ^but they say it was a mistake. 
The Swiss, however, are not taking any chances and have ordered 
general mobilisation. 

The war has come right on top of England now — ^bombing in 
France, fighting in Belgium & Holland. The next step is England. 
There is one thing to be said for the Nazi Government — ^it’s been 
damned thorough on every one of its frontiers. I hope the aid to 
Belgium & Holland will be prompter & more efficient than that 
offered Norway.^ 

My thoughts are with you. 

Lots of love, 


Les Frenes, 
16th May, 1940 

Darling Papu, 

Here are my plans. I am staying on in Leysin unless and until 
Switzerland is involved in the war. When this happens I am told that 
all foreigners’ will have to leave. So I shall go to England. There is no 

Germany invaded Holland, Belgium and Luxembourg on 10 May, the same day on 
which Winston Churchill replaced Neville Chamberlain as Prime Minister. 

2. The British landings at Narvik started six days after Germany invaded Norway (9 



Other course open. Don’t worry, darling, there is no danger or difficulty 
in all this. I am getting in touch with the British Consul to find out 
what he suggests & also to make arrangements about getting a transit-' 
visa through France, .should the need arise. 

The only thing that I was a little worried about was money. I have 
none here & haven’t paid my bills here for a month. The money is of 
course in London & I have sent for it but heaven alone knows when 
it will arrive. Anyway, I was quite frank about it with Miss Rollier, 
who is the matron here, and she assured me that Prof, would lend me 
enough to see me through to England & from there I could pay my 
bills, etc. So that is settled. 

If I have to leave, it is no use sending numerous telegrams asking 
for advice. I shall merely inform you & London that I am arriving in 
England. Further plans can be discussed there. I may be able to get a 
boat coming to India — via the Cape, of course. 

Don’t get agitated or worried about me, darling. I shall be perfectly 
aU right. A crisis is the one time when I do keep my head. 

Much love darling — look after yourself 



Anand Bhawan, 
23rd May, 1940 


The world we knew seems to disintegrate and dissolve and to give 
place to something new. My mind is restless and sometimes distressed, 
and at aU times it tries to peer into the fliture, but it does so in vain. 

You have decided to stay on in Switzerland but one can never be 
sure what new developments might compel us to do. StiU I hope you 
will stick on to Leysin & Suisse for as long as you can. 

I have had an interesting guest today. He is a distinguished Chinese 
who is on his way back from Tibet to China — they have to go via 
Darjeeling. He went to represent the Chinese Government at the 
installation of the new Dalai Lama — a lad aged four or five. This new 
Dalai Lama has been recendy chosen because he is supposed to show 
signs of his predecessor. One of the strong points in his favour was 
that he never laughs or smiles. He sits gravely through the various 



ceremonies and behaves in a lordly manner to all who approach him. 

I am off to Lahore & Peshawar and then Kashmir, just for five days. 
It is rather absurd to go to Kashmir for this short period, but if I do 
not seize this opportunity I might have to wait for a long time again. 
I have waited long enough. I want to freshen the picture I have in 
mind. It will help me in the days to come. 

And now to bed. I am frightfully sleepy and it is two a.m. 




Jhelim Valley, 
29th May, 1940 

Darling Indu, 

I am at last in Kashmir and I feel a htde excited and moved about it. 

I spent two days in Peshawar. I was the guest of my young Pathan 
friend about whom I wrote to you once — ^Mohammad Yunus^ — who 
stayed with us in Allahabad. I told you that he had forty-three brothers 
and sisters, many of them half-brothers, etc. All these having one 
father. There were eight mothers or rather eight wives successively, 
though sometimes overlapping. Yunus was the youngest of the family 
and he was born when his father was eighty-mne years old. The old 
man was hale and hearty to the end and died partly through an accident 
when he was ninety-nine. The family mansion was in the heart of the 
city of Peshawar, a big house of the old style, as solid as a fortress. The 
mother-tongue of the family was, in a way, Persian and conversation 
was carried on alternately in Persian, Pushtu, Hindustani and 
sometimes in English. 

It is really astonishing how much a Pathan can eat, and remember 
that he does not waste time and energy over vegetables and rice and 
the like. He concentrates on solid chunks of meat, rich pulao and 

I. Mohammad Yunus; friend of the Nehrus, he joined the Indian Foreign Service after 
1 9'J7 and held important diplomatic assignments. Later he became Chairman of the 
Trade Fair Authority of India and a member of the Rajya Sabha (Upper House of 
Indian Parliament). 



thick very 'whole.some bread. A day of this food in the extreme heat 
of Pesliawar upset me and I have been gradually recovering since 

We left Peshawar yesterday — ^Abdul Ghaffar Khan was with me. 
We stopped at Attock where the Indus meets another river and had a 
dip in the cold water of the Indus. There we passed within ten miles 
of Taxila and I was sorely tempted to go there. But our programme 
was heavy and I resisted the temptation. This morning we started 
from Abbottabad and followed the road to Kashmir, joining thejhelum 
Valley route at Domel. My mind was continually going back to the 
autumn of 1916, nearly twenty-four years, when I had gone by this 
very road out of Kashmir with Dadu, Mummie & others. There were 
numerous halts as people had gathered to welcome us all along the 
route. We have now stopped here at Rampur for the night. Srinagar is 
only fifty miles away and it was not difficult to reach it today. But the 
people there insist on my reaching there in the afternoon, so that 
they can have a river procession. I understand that this is going to be 
a big affair. 

I shall spend only two days in Srinagar and then go to various 
places, including Kausarnag and Pahalgam. It "will be a hurried four- 
day tour. Still I find Kashmir exliilarating and I have a sense of coming 
back to my own — it is curious how race memories persist, or perhaps 
it is all imagination. 

Your loving, 


Anaud Bliaimi, 
iSth June, 1940 

Indu darling, 

Will this letter reach you, and if so how and when? I do not know. All 
round little Switzerland are belligerent Powers now and war rages. 
For the present, I suppose, all idea of your leaving Switzerland for 
another country is out of the question. There appears to be no feasible 
way. But events are taking place with astonishing speed and the future 
may be [less] certain. Anyway I know that you can look after yourself, 

• homecoming • 


especially when crisis comes, and I do not worry. 

I have paid my brief visit to Kashmir and I am exhilarated by it. I 
am sure that a stay there in the higher valleys would be of enormous 
benefit to you. I \vish 1 myself could go there for two months every 
year — one month trekking towards Ladakh or Baltistan or the various 
^aciers and upper valleys, and one month’s rest and intensive reading 
and writing also in a higher valley. That would be an ideal life. But 
ideals are difficult to realise! 

During my brief stay I went to the Kolahoi glacier via Pahalgam. 1 
loved this trip and came back thoroughly tanned. 

1 think of you almost continuously. There are so many enquiries 
about you. The world changes — ^an epoch is over. Let us keep cool 
and steady and not allow ourselves to be bowled over by any change. 
If you have news of Louise and Jean-Jacques let me have it. 

All my love, 
Your loving, 


[22nd June, 1940] 


Anand Bhawan 

Postal communication impossible don’t worry am alright don’t write 
stop newspapers love. 



Les Frenes, 
23rd July, 1940 

Darling Papu, 

A couple of days ago the post office informed us that we could again 
write to England and India ... I am writing all my letters as soon as 



possible just in case communications break down again. 

These weeks, so completely cut off from the rest of the world, 
have been dreadful. Three letters which I had written to you^ — two 
before and one after the fall of Paris^ — were returned to me from 
Chiasso, the Italy frontier. The day the Germans marched into Paris, I 
had two great surprises — a letter from Efy Aristarchi from Zurich and 
a telephone call from Louise Morin from Lausanne. I had been worried 
and anxious about her and Nanu and all the other people who, I 
knew, were still in Paris, so it was a relief to have her news. Nanu, 
Bannegee and others managed to get on the last train to leave Paris — 
they had no idea where it was going, probably in the direction of 
Bordeaux. That left Louise Morin quite friendless and rather frightened 
in her little flat with no means of getting out of Paris except on foot. 
Just then the Swiss Government sent a special train to repatriate Swiss 
subjects living in Paris. Perhaps for the first time, Louise was glad to 
have a Swiss passport (her husband was Swiss, you know). She managed 
to squeeze into the train, which was packed more tightly than a tin of 
sardines — to the extent of four people standing in the WC! — and 
arrived in Lausanne. Mme Morin came over to Leysin for the weekend 
and on Tuesday left: for France on a train — the train service having 
been suspended on this Monday. 

The Franco-German armistice had an immediate effect on the 
Swiss radio and newspapers. You cannot imagine how poisonous is 
the atmosphere here nowadays. At ‘Frenes’ there are two Spaniards 
who fought for Franco, two Frenchmen who were clamouring for a 
military dictatorship even before Petain^ formed his government & 
asked for armistice terms. Tlie famille RoUier is loud in its praises of 
imperialism — ^British and French. As a result I just can’t open my 
mouth on any subject. At one moment I thought I could not bear it 
and, when I heard that it was, after aU, possible to get to London via 
Portugal, I decided to risk it. This service has come into being only 
since about ten days. One goes by bus from Geneva to Barcelona and 
then by air to London via Lisbon. The trip takes nearly four days and 

1. Letters not traceable. 

2. Paris fell on Friday, 14 June 1940. 

3. Henri Phibppe Petain: French political and nulitary leader. After the fall of Pans in 
the Second World War, he headed the Vichy Government that collaborated with 
Nazi Germany. 



costs about 800 Swiss francs. Terribly expensive! I would have gone 
too, but I have such a horror of falling ill again that I felt that whatever 
happens I didn’t think I could risk that. So here I am still. 

Everyone is forever reminding me of the safety and security of 
Leysin. I suppose it’s a great deal to be thankful for. But I don’t want 
safety just for myself — I want to share the bombs and everything. I 
don’t believe anybody who has not actually experienced 
bombardments and trials of refugees and the sound of cannons can 
ever imagine what it’s hke. I hate war as much as anyone, and much 
more than most, but while there is one on, I want to know what it is 
like — aU the horror and beasdiness of it. 

My love to you, 
Your loving, 


1st August, 1940 


On my return from Kashmir, I wrote half a dozen articles on Kashmir. 

I enclose the first of these. It might interest you as it gives my emotional 
reactions to the long deferred visit. Possibly I imagined much that I 
write about. But the visit had a powerful effect upon me. Even 
physically it made me feel fitter and everyone remarked on this. 

On my way back from Poona I paid a visit to the little state of 
Aundh. This tiny state has become a group of village republics, partly 
because the Raja is a go-ahead person, partly because of the influence 
of his son, recently returned from Oxford. It was an interesting visit, 
though Aundh is too small a place for any effective experiment. 
Kirloskarwadi and Oglewadi are in Aundh and we visited both of 
these industrial concerns. 

The Raja of Aundh^ is a delightful and extraordinary person. He 
IS about seventy-three but considers himself, and is in many ways, a 
young man. He is famous for his surya namaskars, the old form of 

1. Bhavanrao Shrinivasrao alias Balasaheb Pant (1868-1951): Raja of Aundh; liberal 
ruler ofa small princely state who adopted a federal constitution for his prmcipahty 
His son Apa B. Pant later represented India as a diplomat in many countnes. 



exercise, in the form of salutation to the sun. Every schoolboy & girl 
in the state does these namaskars and the Raja himself does a hundred 
of them every morning, in addition to a brisk run up and down a hill. 
His energy is extraordinary. He remarked casually to me that in another 
twenty years’ time, perhaps he might begin to grow old and not be 
able to run up & down a hiU! For thirty years or more he has done 
these namaskars without a day’s break and during all this period he 
has not had a day’s illness or even a cold. 

All my love, darling, 
Your loving, 


12th October, 1940 


Your letters do not come to me and presumably my letters do not 
reach you. It is a curious and depressing world we live in when we 
can neither meet nor communicate with those we love. 

A letter that came recendy to me brought joy to me. It was from 
Louise Morin. I was glad to have news of her. But what pleased me 
especially was her account of the visit she paid to you at Leysin. She 
gave me a very satisfactory account of how you looked and how healthy 
you seemed to be. 

Your loving, 


Anand Bliaimn, 
25th October, 1940 


At last, after long waiting, a letter^ from you has just reached me. Was 

1 . Refers to letter dated 23 July 1940 (No. 258). 



it four months ago when I got your last letter? It took full three months 
for this to come. 

I thought of you a great deal as I read that letter and all day as I 
carried it about with me. Not that the inducement of a letter was 
required. You are seldom out of my mind and sometimes I have a 
feeling that you are very near me. The door between your room and 
mine is always open and I walk in and out of it fiequendy for no 
apparent reason. In my own room you look at me from every side. 
You will be amused to learn how many pictures of you I have round 
about me. Yesterday I counted them up. There were twenty-six of 
them — all different ones of course — ^in my sitting room and dressing 
room! From babyhood upwards you sprawl or sit or stand and the 
past comes up before me and becomes more real than the present. 

I have had many reports of the fall of Paris and France. 
Suhrawardy^ — do you remember him? — was in Paris when the 
Germans came and he gave us a vivid account. Then the letter from 
Louise Morin after her return from Switzerland. For sheer tragedy 
and drama the sudden collapse of France would be hard to beat. It 
made people realise suddenly that the old world we knew was cracking 
up. It was the end of an era. And yet, I suppose, most people in India, 
both Indians and English, still fail to appreciate what is happening. 

What a world we Hve in! It is a nightmare. And yet even the most 
sensitive grow used to its daily horrors. I read about the bombing of 
London and then remember that Chungking has had this kind of 
thing for years — and still carries on. I do not suppose any city has had 
this experience for such a length of time. I do not know how people 
feel when they are bombed. I did not feel the slightest bit nervous as 
I watched the bombing of Barcelona and Chungking.^ I was fascinated 
by the sight. Indeed I resented being pushed into a dug-out. 

Your loving, 

L H S. Suhravvardy. leader of the Musbm League in Bengal. He was ChiefMinister of 
Bengal, 1946-7, and later Prime Minister of Pakistan, 1956-7. 

2 Jawaharlal Nehm visited Barcelona injune 1938, during the Civil War, and Chungking 
in August 1939. China had been at war with Japan since 1937 and Chungking, which 
became the centre of government during the hostilities, was severely damaged by 
intensive Japanese bombing 



District Jail, 
5th November, 1940 


Darling Indu, 

Again I am writing to you from prison after many years. When was it 
last that I did so? Over five years ago and then also you were in Europe. 

I was arrested the day after Diumli and brought here from Allahabad. 
The next day after my arrival was Id, the great MusUm festival ending 
the Ramzan fast. So in feasting and rejoicing I came here, or was 
brought here. My trial lasted two days and today I was sentenced. 
There were three counts on three speeches I had delivered a month 
ago in Gorakhpur district and on each charge I was sentenced to a 
year and four months rigorous imprisonment, each sentence to run 
consecutively, that is four years in all. That is the biggest sentence I 
have so far had in my longish experience . . . 

Four years seems a long time to look forward to. And yet in this 
world of shock and change, it makes little difference what period is 
fixed for a sentence. For my part I might as well be here as elsewhere. 
For the last five days my tired mind and body have been clamouring 
for rest and I have slept more than I have done for many months. 
The mind has not been so restful. It is a wayward creature and not 
easy to control. 

And now about you, my darling one. My arrest and sentence must 
not make the least bit of difference to what you intend doing. Do not 
worry in the sHghtest. I have deliberately chosen my path, well knowing 
the consequences, and have trained myself to it. 

Each generation has to solve its own problems, and that perhaps 
applies far more today, in this fast changing world, than ever before. 
For a passing generation to impose itself on a new one is bad. Do not 
therefore consider me, or what you may think are my wishes in 
anything, as a burden and an obstacle in your way. I have almost ceased 
to have any wishes about others, individually considered, though I 
have these wishes for large impersonal objects. 

In the soHtude of prison I shall think of you a great deal. I shall sit 
here wrapped up in my thoughts and you wiU be a constant companion 
bringing joy and solace to me. So I shall not be really lonely, and the 
years or months that I pass here wiU perhaps bring peace to my mind. 



I shall make friends again with the stars and watch the moon wax and 
wane, and see the pageant of the world, with aU its beauty and horror, 
as an onlooker from a distant place or a different world. I have worked 
hard during most of my life but I have worked as I wanted to, and Hfe, 
in spite of many hard knocks, has been gracious to me. I suppose I 
have hard work still to do. There are no ways of escape from it. But at 
present I feel somewhat weary in mind. When I feel this way I seek 
refuge in poetry and the classics. What is wisdom, asks Euripides, 

What then is Wisdom? What of man’s endeavour? 

To stand from fear set free, to breathe and wait, 

To hold a hand uplifted over Hate. 

And shall not Loveliness be loved for ever? 

Do I not betray my age and generation in what I write, and in my 

If you are in touch with Louise and Nanu send them my love. If it 
is possible for you to help Nanu in any way, I wish you would do so. 
For months I have been worried about him not knowing what to do. 

Your loving, 


La Pelouse, 
7th November, 1940 

Darling Papu, 

Your letters' vnritten in Kashmir arrived last week. I was glad to get 
them just then — glad that you were able at last to go to Kashmir and 
refresh your mind and body with the mountain you love so much. 

La Pelouse and the surrounding mountainsides are incredibly 
beautiful — such rich gold and bronze and wine-red tints. And on the 
peaks, a sprinkhng of snow. If only one could compress all this — ^like 
perfume in a bottle — and send it to you. But ‘We cannot cage the 
minute within its nets of gold.’^ 

1- Refers to letter dated 29 May 1940 (No 255), second letter not published. 
2. From ‘Sunlight in the Garden’ by Louis MacNeice. 



Do you know that since the middle of September I have been 
making efforts to get out of this country? 

To come to India I must go to England. To go to England 1 must 
pass through France, Spain and Portugal. The Portuguese visa is 
unavailable unless one produces one’s ticket as proof of one’s intention 
of leaving Portugal immediately. The Spanish Consulate will not even 
think of a visa until you show them your Portuguese one. Then you 
take your Spanish visa to the French Consulate! 

I spent some days in Geneva. I have now my air ticket to England 
and my Portuguese visa. Nothing else to do but wait — ^wait . . . wait . . . 
The Spanish Consulate says cheerfully that the visa may take three 
weeks or six weeks or months. 

So I sit alone and admire the autumn tints. Was it Mussolini, or his 
son Bruno, who said that . . ‘completed’ the beauty of nature? We 
have even that ‘perfection’ here. 

From ten p.m. until seven in the morning we have a complete 
blackout. Foodstuffs have of course been rationed for sometime except 
milk and a few other things. Prices are going up almost every few 
hours. Since last week there is absolute prohibition for the selling of 
any kind of clothing or cloth, shoes, wool, cotton, silk, all rubber 
goods, soap and a whole host of other things. Eventually ration cards 
will be issued for these commodities — eventually; the Lord knows 
when. Such is life in a neutral country! 

Meanwhile, to pass the time I am learning Spanish — I want to be 
able to ‘se debrouiller^ if, as has happened to several people, I get held 
up in Spain. 

Much love, darling one, 

1 . Deleted by censors: letters written or received in prison had to pass through official 

2. To manage. 




District Jail, 
Dehra Dun, 
18th November, 1940 

Dailing Indu, 

The idea of your coming back to India and of my seeing you fills me 
with joy. 

Even after you reach London the problem of returning to India is 
not solved. I am told that there is a long list of persons, including 
children, waiting to be sent to India. It takes months to get a passage 
on a convoy. I do not know how far it is possible for you to return to 
India without going to London, that is from Lisbon directly via the 
Cape. You must have all these factors in mind and will be able to 
decide for yourself. 

1 quite agree with you that it is not good enough for any man or 
woman to sit at ease, doing nothing, while millions have to risk 
everything they possess from day to day. Life is something much more 
than a round of eating and sleeping and amusing oneself. Indeed, as 
someone has said, one can enjoy life properly only after resolving 
not to count the cost. I am not of the calculating variety, neither are 
you, and I would not hke you to be one. We must face the risks and 
perils of the adventure of life. If I was an Englishman, I would not 
leave England now whatever happened, and in spite of bombing and 
everything else. Being an Indian, my job lies in India and I would 
not leave India now even if I could. 

Let us therefore not be fnghtened of perils, real or imaginary — 
the real ones are bad enough, but to be frightened of them is far 
worse. But to face danger calmly and courageously is one thing: to 
be foolhardy and melodramatic about it is quite another thing. It is 
folly. Therefore one avoids needless risk and danger. You will do so 
I hope. 

Two nights ago I was suddenly informed in Gorakhpur Jail that I 
was being transferred to Dehra Dun. 

I am back again in my old place in Dehra which I left over six 
years ago — in August 1934 I think it was. What a six years they have 

Tomorrow is your birthday, my darling one. At Bex it wiU pass off 
rather quietly, but you wiU be in the minds of numerous people who 


3 00 

tare for you, and you will haunt me even more than you usually do. 
And so, au revoir, cara rnia, and may it be well with you. 

Your loving, 



25th November, 1940 


District Jail, 

Dehra Dun 

Leaving Switzerland twenty seventh Lisbon England whence hope to 
come India via Cape Don’t worry Darling much love, 

Indu Nehni 


Casa de Sao Mamede, 
159 Rua da Escola, 

14th December, 1940 

Darhng Papu, 

It was a fortnight yesterday since my arrival in Lisbon. The date of 
departure is still one big question mark. I have an aeroplane ticket 
but I have put my name down on the boat list as well — I shall leave 
by whichever service offers me a passage first. Of course the air service 
takes some hours and the boat at least a month to reach England. But 
I think one month on the journey is better than being stuck on in 
Lisbon indefinitely. Feroze has managed to get me priority for the 
plane. But as there are at least sixty other names before mine on the 
priority list, most people think it is quite hopeless waiting for a seat. 

I left Geneva at seven a.m. on the 27th November by bus. We 
spent four hours at the Franco-Swiss fix)ntier. At first we were in a 
thick mist and the ground was covered with frost. Quite suddenly we 
emerged from the mist and beheld a most magnificent range of snow- 
topped mountains rising out [of] a sea of white foam like clouds. The 



scenery all along was rather glorious. I like the rugged wildness of 
the Haute Savoie. The only outward signs of the war that we saw were 
a few blown-up bridges, the complete absence of sugar and the 
undrinkable concoction wliich is called ^cafe mtiomV . All the towns 
we passed were very gloomy and quite deserted.We lunched at Gorian 
and dined and slept at Nimes. We left Nimes next morning at six 
thirty and saw the most superb sunrise of my life. We were driving 
along the sea and I was looking out at the calmness of the 
Mediterranean when I saw the tiniest drop of blood on the horizon. 
For a moment I couldn’t think what it was. And then it rose and grew 
bigger and bigger. It was a perfect poem, this ball of the very essence 
of red reflected in the sea. It was just so majestic and splendid, one 
did not wonder that he was called a God and worshipped. 

For this second day we had been told to bring our own provisions. 
And we ate our sandwiches and hard-boiled eggs for breakfast at Sete 
and again for lunch at Le Perthus, the French frontier. Between Le 
Perthus & La Junquera, Spanish frontier, we spent nearly five hours in 
a howling gale. Everybody caught a cold. Up till here the journey 
had not been at all bad. But at this frontier we had to change buses, 
for the Spanish Govt doesn’t allow any foreign bus to enter their 
territory. The road to Barcelona was hke a village road in India, full of 
holes and bumps and oh so dusty. Moreover we were packed like 
sardines. We were glad to see the glimmering hill of lights that was 
Barcelona. How different it was when you were there! I fell completely 
in love with Barcelona and the Spaniards — especially the women. 
Barcelona is beautiful but sad, sad to the point of pain. Such misery 
on every face! Apart from anything else there is so little food, no 
butter, no sugar, inedible bread. About the only thing one saw in 
abundance were flowers, masses and masses of them. There was one 
other thing in equal abundance — portraits of Franco' and of Jose 
Antonio," whoever he is or was. Also posters about the victory. I was 
sorry to leave. But my seat was reserved on the next morning’s plane 
to Lisbon. From the air, Spain looked like an enormous patchwork 
quilt, the browns, deep greens, beiges blending together exquisitely. 
At four thirty p.m., Portuguese time, we landed at Cintra aerodrome. 

1. Francisco Franco (1892-1975); Spanish military leader and dictator. 

2. Jose Antonio Prinio de Rivera (1 903-36)' founder of the Falangc.the Spanish Fascist 



Police, passport, customs all over again. This was the beginning of 
trouble for me. After one look at my passport photograph the police 
officer said that it was not me, and therefore the passport could not be 
mine! I just kept mum — after all what can one say? Then he wanted 
to see my ticket and I found that I had lost it — trust me to choose just 
this journey to lose my ticket for the first time in all my travels! Anyway 
after a most unpleasant half-hour at the police I was allowed to leave. 
Cooks of Geneva had wired for a room reservation a whole week 
ago but on arrival I found there was no reservation for me. The next 
two hours were spent in going from one hotel to another in search of 
a bed. At half past eight we arrived at a poky little hotel where there 
was a double room vacant for just one night. I took it, dumped my 
luggage and then went out in search of a Mrs Moreton, whose address 
had been given [to] me in Geneva. Mrs Moreton is [the] Swiss widow 
of an English person — she has lived all her life in Lisboa. She is one 
of those persons brimming over with undiluted goodness. 

The next morning — the 30th — I found that a room had been 
reserved for me in Estoril, a resort some miles from Lisbon. So I 
moved there. Estoril is terribly like Juhu, only full of enormous hotels. 
My own hotel was altogether too luxurious and expensive & besides 
it was a nuisance being so far from Lisbon — ^forty-five mins by train. 
However I was forced to stay in bed for at least a couple of days for by 
this time my cold had taken on enormous proportions, I had a bad 
cough and my voice had taken a holiday. On the 3rd I went up to 
Lisbon & with Mrs Moreton as guide began a second hunt for a 
room. The next day I moved to this pension, and have been here 

The Portuguese are very poor and very dirty. A lot of women & 
children are barefooted and there are many beggars. People spit all 
over the place — there is a terrific amount of shoutings and many 
hawkers singing out their wares firom house to house. It is almost bke 
being in India. This is the first time I have seen custard-apples in 
Europe. The milk is watery and unappetising — water has to be boiled. 
Portuguese meals swim in oil. Compared to other commodities food 
is cheap — and ample too, though a shortage of butter is being felt. 

Lisbon is swarming with foreigners, mostly refugees trying to get 
away to the Americas. Whichever office one goes to one is practically 
trampled under foot. 

In most of the offices, people understand ‘um po’ of French but 
otherwise the language difficulty is another complication in a 

• MO,M!.COV,!NG • 


complic-iitcd filiation. Written Portviguese is like Spanish and vcr>f 
when spoken it sounds like Czech, only worse. I find it 
impossible to understand a word — for instance when a Portuguese 
sws 'l-isho.i' all one hears is ‘shbo’. 

Some days ago I bought the News Chronicle of die 6th Dee — the 
fitst Hnglish paper I’ve seen for nearly a year. It gave me the news of 
I'liphi’s arrest and also of some kind of ‘truce’ that the moderates 
were trying to negotiate. 

This morning came a cable from Agatha, ‘Have received money 
from your father.’ Thank you so much. But I think I have already 
quite enough . . . 

I have left with Wagons-lits Cook, Rue Mont-Blanc, Geneva, just 
over ‘lOOd .Ssviss francs.Tliis is in my name (old passport No. 7757-C). 
They assured me that I could draw the whole or part of this amount 
anywhere in the world — that is at any branch of Cooks after cabling 
to the Genev'a office. So I left the money, just in case I needed it on 
my journey to India, when taking money out of England would be 
diflicult. 1 am telling you this so that you may claim this money just in 
case (tins is highly improbable, but still) anything should happen to 
me. There is no point in making a present of it to Cooks. 

Nami is in Montpellier — he hasn’t a sou. I sent him 500 Swdss frs. 

My wishes for the coming New Year and all all my love to you. 




District Jctil, 
Dehra Dun, 
lOtli January, 1941 

Barling Indu. 

>So you are in London now. Long before your cable’ came — for cables 
take time nowad.ays, especially^ to reach in prison — I learnt of your 
arrival in London from the newspapers. 

What a changed London you must have found! London has had a 
had lime, like so many other cities in various countries. And yet 
perhaps no city has suffered more during the past years than 

>. Cjl'.c not published; Indira rcMchcd London on 1^' 1941. 


3 04 

Chungking. Some time back I had a letter from Madame Chiang 
Kai-shek.^ She said in this: 

If you were to visit Chungking now you would not recognise 
it. Square miles of the most prosperous business districts have 
now become shambles, and so far as the eye can see nothing 
but debris and ruins stretch out in all directions. AU of us who 
are stiU sound in limb have worked and toiled incessandy for 
the relief of the tens of thousands of homeless refugees deprived 
of every means of livelihood through the insensate destruction 
of human Lives and property with the most calculated cruelty 
ever conceived by man. 

Such is our world today. Something much more vital than buildings 
has gone to pieces. It will not be pieced together after the old pattern 
again, whatever happens. 

I have been reading a book about China — Lin Yu-tang’s^ new 
novel of Chinese life — Moment in Peking. It is a tremendously long 
book and rather unlike a modern novel. And yet it is worth reading 
and I hope you wdl get hold of it. China is very different from India 
and yet there is so much in common. Both have been passing through 
a tremendous period of transition in their inner lives and this transition 
has suddenly to face a world change. I have been drawn more and 
more towards China and admire her culture greatly. 

I understand that Lindsay Drummond is bringing out a collection 
of my writings and calling it The Unity of India. Please ask Krishna to 
have complimentary copies sent on my behalf to various friends of 
ours.You can make a Hst. Copies should be sent to Bapu and Gurudev. 
Also to Madame Chiang Kai-shek (Chungking) and Madame Sun 
Yat-sen and to the Chinese Ambassador in London. To Agatha, Edward 
Thompson and Carl Heath.^ You can add to this list in England & 

1. Madame Chiang Kai-shek: educated in the U S.A.,she married General Chiang Kai- 
shek in 1927 and accompanied her husband on many of his military campaigns She 
did much relief work among orphans and refugees and received the highest military 
and civil decorations of the National Government of China. 

2. Lin Yu-tang: Chinese author and philologist, who stayed at Anand Bhawan on Ins 
visit to Allahabad in March 1944. 

3. Carl Heath: President of the Concih'ation Group, created in 1 931 , on the initiative of 
Mahatma Gandiu, during his wsit to London. This Group mediated between British 
and Indian leaders. 



India. Also to Mrs Frances Gunther. Mrs Gunther has written to invite 
you to America and says she will look after you. 

All my love to you my darling one. 

Your loving, 


District Jail, 
Dchra Dim, 
Jlstjanuary, 1941 

Darling Indu, 

Day before yesterday 1 received your letter from Lisbon dated 14th 
December.’ It took just a month and a half to travel round the world 
via New York, Manila, China, etc. Perhaps a good part of this time 
was taken up by the various censors reading your letter. 

I looked long at the envelope which contained your letter. Your 
handwriting on an envelope had not come to me for some months. 
Like a treasure which has come my way unexpectedly and out of 
which I wish to take full delight before examining it, I gazed long at 
the envelope. It seemed to me that your handwriting was not quite 
the same as it used to be. 

Handwriting of course changes and develops and there was nothing 
surprising about a slight change which seemed to have crept in yours. 
But then, I wondered, does this indicate some change in you also? We 
all change as the days and years roll by and I am myself conscious of 
very definite changes in my own make-up. As I look back I seem to 
see a procession of different personalities merging with each other 
and yet each with its o\vn distinctive features. Whether the changes 
are for the good or not I do not know. Or perhaps it is not so much a 
change of personality that takes place as the emergence of different 
aspects of the same personality. We are, each one of us, a group of 
different individuals, all tied up together with no hope of release, and 
sometimes they quarrel amongst themselves and we feel the tension 
and the pain. 

So, I wondered, during these two years since we met, how have 
you progressed and changed in this changing and moving world. 

I- Refers to letter d.ited 14 December 1940 (No 266). 



I am glad you sent some money to Nanu. I wish I could help him 
more. Send him my love if you can get through to him. Louise Morin 
and Jean-Jacques also. It will cheer them up if they get messages of 
love and friendship from outside. 

The Memorial Hospital in Allahabad is practically ready now and 
the question has arisen as to whether there should be a formal and 
big opening ceremony by Bapu. I was not very keen on it under the 
circumstances but Jivraj Mehta is anxious to have it. Jivraj has taken 
enormous trouble over this hospital and his wishes carry weight. 
Perhaps Bapu may agree to come over next month for the opening 
ceremony. The hospital is an attractive and efficient looking building. 
Some time or other, I suppose, Anand Bhawan will become an annexe 
of it, perhaps for Httle children. That will be for you to consider and 

Tomorrow is Vasanta Panchami, the day which heralds the coming 
of spring. Usually it is remarkable how the season changes after this 
day, though perhaps in Dehra Dun the change may be slower. For me 
this day is an anniversary which I can never forget.^ 

The httle barrack we hve in is a very ancient affair. I am told it was 
built nearly a hundred years ago. The roof has been pronounced 
unreliable and so we are being shifted to a little tent in our small 
courtyard while the roof is repaired or changed. 

Give my love to Agatha and Krishna and Feroze and Kailas and all 
our other friends. 

Ranjit sends you his love. He is busy with his translation work 
from Sanskrit — an old play written 1300 years ago dealing with 
Chanakya s^ time. Extraordinarily interesting some of these plays are. 
I wish I knew Sanskrit and could read them in the original. 

Your loving, 

1. Jawaharlal Nehru was married on Vasanta Panchami d.iy in 1916. 

2 Chanakya, also called Kautilya orVislinugupta: Hindu statesman and philosopher 
who lived in the fourth century B.C. 




City of Paris, 
22nd March, 1941 

Darling Papu, 

I cabled' to you from the last port of call. 

I do hope you have not been anxious about me, because really we 
have been having the most astounding luck. A palmist told me long 
ago in India that all sorts of divine powers were protecting my lifeline!! 

This IS the longest sea voyage I have ever been on and I must say 
I do not fancy it at all — specially under war conditions. It was a great 
relief to hear that we were going to call at a port. We did not stay long 
and were not allowed to land. But it was good to look at the brownness 
of the earth and the greenness of the trees after the eternal blue of the 
Atlantic. I was longing to go ashore and feel land with my naked toes. 
(How well I can understand the joy and reHef felt by Columbus and 
his men when they sighted land!) However we had to be content 
with watching it from a distance and buying lots of fruit, which was 
being sold by men in canoes. I bought dozens of lovely green bananas 
and mangoes and oranges, and devoured them with the zeal of one 
who has not tasted food for many months. The food we get on board 
is most monotonous and inedible. 

We crossed the Equator a few days ago. There was the usual 
‘Crossing the Line’ ceremony. It is completely mad. One person dresses 
up as King Neptune & holds court on the ship. Whereupon all persons 
crossing the line for the first time were tried and sentenced to being 
ducked & white-washed and what not! 

Have you heard of Zoshchenko?^ He is one of the leading 
humorists of the Soviet Union. Translations of his short stories appear 
quite often in magazines like Lilliput. Now for the first time some of 
them have been collected in book form. They are really lovely — and 
very' very ftmny. 

We have a most pecuhar mixture of people on this ship. Fortunately 
I already knew some of them in London, otherv\dse I would have 
been bored stiff the whole voyage. 

Mamu was well when I left London. I suppose you know that 

' • Cable not published. 

2 Mikhail Zoshchenko: Russian writer and humorist. 



Mami is expecting a baby.^ I believe it is expected towards the end of 

An reuoir darling and very much love. 



17th April, 1941 

Jawaharlal Nehru, 

Central Prison, 


Arrived safely much love writing. 



Amnd BImum, 
1st May, 1941 

Darling Papu, 

I was hoping to be able to come and see you this Sunday. But the heat 
is getting me down completely — ^and the journey to Dehra is long & 
very tiring. 

Puphi is not taking Puphas interview until later on next week so 
I am sending Madan Bhai & Feroze to see you on Sunday. Madan 
Bhai wants to talk to you about my future treatment and programme. 
I have started taking the injections. 

With much love, 

1 . The reference is to Nath Kaul and Sheiia Kaiil, the matenial iinclc and aunt of 
Indira Gandhi. 




District Jail, 
Delira Dm, 
3rd May, 1941 

Darling Indu, 

The Superintendent told me this morning that he had allowed the 
interview with Madan as he was coming as your medical adviser but 
he had not allowed it to Feroze as there was no special reason for 

You will decide as you think best in consultation with Madan 
Bhai and others [what you should now do], I can hardly be of help to 
you from here. In drawing up your programme, it is best to proceed 
on lines which do not appear as odd to other people, especially those 
connected with us in various ways. Then there are those, like Ladli 
Chacha,' who have been good enough to help us in family matters 
for the last ten years or more, ever since Dadu died. AH these people 
have to be treated in a friendly way and made to feel that they are not 
being ignored or not consulted about matters on which they are usually 

Life IS rather a complicated business, as no doubt you will realise 
as you grow older. 

In politics, I am a little weary of those — and they are so many — 
who without taking the trouble to understand the intricacies of a 
complicated problem, seek to solve it out of hand. We are always 
announcing answers to questions which we have not even framed. If 
that is so in politics, it is even more in life itself, with its amazing 
diversity and complexity. 

I write all this because circumstances have put you on the threshold 
of life and at every turn you will have to face a question mark. By 
your answers to these questions your future will be moulded, and 
often those answers wiU not be entirely pleasant ones. Distress and 
suffering consume the world today. Nobody can avoid them. But 
integrity of mind and action can be ours, whatever happens. And if 
we are fortunate enough to possess this, then it does not much matter 
what else we lack. 

This note or letter sounds perilously hke sermonising — it is not 

1. Lidli Prasad Zutshi: unde of Indira Gandhi 



meant so. I talk too much and write too much — I grow garrulous 
with age. But the period when as a father it was my function to guide 
you in many ways has ended, because you have grown up and because 
of other things. And I wonder so often if during these past years I 
guided you aright or failed to do what I should have done. Anyway 
that period of life for you and for me is past history. The moving 
finger has written and moved on. 

I want my old razor (Gillette type). There are two old ones in my 
bathroom in Anand Bhawan. Someone might bring them here — 
Puphi when she comes next. 




District Jail, 
Dehra Dun, 
4th May, 1941 

Darling Indu, 

I have had a long talk with Madan Bhai and he will no doubt tell you 
all about it. Madan seems to think that Solan will be a suitable place 
for you for two months or so and after that, when the rains are well 
set, you will be fit enough to go elsewhere — to Allahabad or Kashmir 
or where you like. If you agree with this, certainly go to Solan. You 
can decide later what to do afterwards. 

On your way to Solan you can pay me a visit, also on your way 
down. My next interview is due on Sunday or any day afterwards. I 
shall take no other interview and shall not write any letters which 
might come in the way of an interview. But you can write to me. 

These jail interviews, even when the authorities are lenient (and 
this is not likely to be repeated on the same scale), are very 
unsatisfactory, welcome as they are. I do not know how to unlock the 
doors of my mind and heart, which burst with things to say. Nor do 
you, I fancy, for you have found it even more difficult to do so even 
outside jail. And then in my long moments of silent thought I wonder 
often if words are so important after all. They help of course but only 
slightly and when the doors of understanding have been unlocked. 
Otherwise they are valueless — just hot air. Having used an abundance 
of words all my life, I grow more and more to distrust them. Something 



that is vital escapes them. I vt^onder sometimes if my love for you has 
been so wanting in something as to prevent those doors from opening. 
I seek to find the error, to purge the fault. Meanwhile we grow older 
and time passes and events happen — and I draw into my own shell. 

In the quiet of Solan, or wherever you may be, you will also do a 
lot of thinking. Try to think out things for yourself and build your 
thoughts on an integral and integrated mmd. There is nothing so 
important as integrity- of thought which is not swept away by 
momentary gusts or rumour or hearsay. If we can keep that hard gem- 
like flame of mental integrity, our actions are coloured by it and we 
grow in the process. Else we remain petty, inconsequential and 
unimportant in any real analysis. There is no chance of my coming 
out of prison for a long time, and I do not want to. I should hke to 
develop more peace and strength of mind and more charity than I 
possess. Perhaps the Bodhisatva will help! 




District Jail, 
Dehra Dun, 
15th May, 1941 


Why have I suddenly begun writing to you — and today of aU days? 
This letter is not meant to be sent to you in the ordinary course and 
1 do not know when you wiU see it. I do not know when you will 
come to interview me again. Yet the writing of this has suddenly 
become an imperative need, an urge I cannot resist, even if I would, 
and indeed I have no desire to do so. I hope you will see it some 

Letters from prison, with aU manner of evilly inclined folk and 
knaves and fools running their eyes through them and, often enough, 
blue-pencilling or blacking out passages. How can one write a real, 
intimate letter under these circumstances? 

During the last twenty years, ever since the first C.D. [Civil 
Disobedience] movement or even earlier, I have always had the idea 
at the back of my mind that my letters might be read by censors and 
the like. My political life and methods were such that there was little 


secrecy about them, though inevitably there were things I did not 
want to shout from the house-tops. But when it came to personal 
matters it was a different story. Not that there were any great secrets of 
mine which I wished to hide from the public gaze. But no one likes 
to undress his mind and soul in public. So, always, through all these 
long years, whenever I took pen in hand to write a letter, 
subconsciously I kept a check on myself, feeling that strangers would 
see that letter. 

Perhaps even before these iron bars of the censorship enveloped 
us and made me retire a little more into my shell, I had developed a 
measure of restraint in expression and behaviour.That too, I am inclined 
to think, was a way of self-protection against a fear I always had of 
being swept away by too much sentiment. You will be surprised to 
find me accusing myself of sentiment, for I show precious htde of it 
and [am] much more of a hard-boiled egg, now at any rate. Yet, I fear, 
this hardness is only at the surface and underneath hes a sea of sentiment 
which has often frightened me. A lifetime of disciplined living and 
deliberate training of the mind and body to make them efficient 
instruments for the purpose I had in view, has thrown a hard shell 
over this turbulent mass and on the whole I feel fairly sure of myself. 

What is Papu driving at, you will say. Why all these patches of 
early autobiography? Well, I really do not know myself My mind 
cooped up for months past is just bursting and if, by some miracle, I 
could transfer all those ideas and thoughts to paper suddenly, a fat 
volume might materialise! The ideas are not methodically arranged 
as they would have to be if I tried to write a book, and they Just 
tumble over each other and the poor pen cannot possibly keep pace 
with them. But I am not wTiting a book and I do not just see myself 
writing a book for some considerable time. I toyed with this writing 
idea for weeks and months; I almost sat down to it, but I could not 
begin and it grows harder to do so as time goes by. 

Why so? Because I cannot write superficially, unless I am writing 
a political or non-personal article, and even then it is frightfully difficult 
for a person who is an active politician. He may not say everything he 
wants to say, he may not discuss frankly his own colleagues or his 
opponents, for he has to think of a hundred consequences. Every 
word spoken or written has to be weighed, consciously or 
subconsciously. How cribbed and confined and imprisoned we are 
by these iron bars of the spirit! 

If this is so about political matters, how much more difficult it is 



about personal matters. Can anyone ever be really frank about oneself, 
one’s own emotions and mental struggles, one’s urges and desires 
and those half-conscious imaginings which float, dreamlike, through 
the mind? 

My Autobiography is, I think, about as frank and truthful a document, 
both politically and personally, as I could make it. Probably it compares 
favourably with others of its kind in this respect. I poured out myself 
in It at a time when I was going through much agony of soul. And yet, 
in spite of all this pouring out, all the restraints and inhibitions were 
there, and I suppressed much that filled my mind and heart. To that 
extent 1 was untruthful. Especially this was so in the last few chapters 
deahng with my personal life. It was impossible for me to lay bare 
my heart before anybody, much less before the world at large. 

But these last six years since the Autobiography was written have 
had a powerful effect upon me. I have suffered greatly, experienced 
many hard knocks in my personal, as well as my political life, saw 
some of my ideals become airy nothings and some of my dearest 
personal relations fade away. I have survived all this, hardened, matured, 
call It what you will. I am now just one and fifty years old. But I feel 
as if I was hundreds of years old in mind and the weight of these 
centuries lies heavily upon me. If this is the beginning of wisdom, 
then I am on the threshold of Saraswati’s haven. But I would barter 
this wisdom and experience, so dearly bought, for the lighthearted 
unwisdom of my younger days. 

How can I write about these six years with any frankness and 
throw my naked soul before the public? And if I miss out everything 
that really mattered to me, what remains that is worthwhile? These 
six or seven years are bound up in my inner life with Kamala and 
you. Of course even before this period both of you played a major 
part in my personal and inner life. But one takes many things for 
granted in one’s younger days; even our struggles have a passing quality. 
Apart from this, in the twenties I was totally abnormal. I had a flame- 
hke quahty, a fire within me which burned and consumed me and 
drove me relentlessly forward; it made me almost oblivious of all 
other matters, even of intimate personal relations. I was in fact wholly 
unfit as a close companion of anyone except in that one sphere of 
thought and action which had enslaved me. Gradually I woke up to 
other matters. I realised then, and I realise now even more, what an 
unpossible person I must have been to get on with. My very good 
qualities, which made me an efiicient instrument for political action. 


3 14 

became defects in tlie domestic field. Yet I found, to my infinite joy, 
that those I cared for above all else had gladly and willingly tolerated 
me and put up with my vagaries. As my awakening proceeded, I 
yearned above all else for those closer human contacts of die spirit 
with those I loved with all my heart. Unfortunately long and trying 
periods of jail came, year after year, and normal life and contacts were 
denied. It was in those days of the early thirties that I wrote those 
hundreds of letters to you which came out subsequently as Glimpses. 
That was one attempt of mine somehow to quench a little the insatiable 
thirst that consumed me. 

Dadu was dead. He had meant a great deal to me: I was infinitely 
proud of him and of the traditions of our family which he had set 
up — the traditions of great ability, great courage, great perseverance, 
great sacrifice, all directed to the service of India. That tradition it was 
my ambition to keep alive in so far as I could. 

But father ivas dead. Dol Amma was there, frail, ailing, enveloping 
me wdth the overwhelming love of a mother for her son. 1 was very 
fond of her but she could take no part in the life I was living. I was 
anxious to give her peace and comfort during her few remaining 
years. There were my sisters, both of whom were so much younger 
than me that my relation to them was partly paternal and partly 
brotherly. One of them had married and was, what is called, settled in 
life. She had lived since her marriage chiefly in Calcutta, Rajkot and 
other places and had lately taken a house with her family in Allahabad. 
Although I was very fond of her, she had largely gone out of my life 
and lived her own life. The younger sister was with us. The difference 
in our ages was so great that I had looked upon her more as a child 
than as a sister. Soon after she married and went away. My family life 
revolved and centred round two persons — Mummie and you. The 
others, however much I liked them, lived their own lives apart fi'om 
ours, though there were of course contacts. 

Ever since father’s death I felt the burden of a new responsibility: 
I was the head of the family and as such must look after, in a sense, my 
sisters and make them feel that nothing had changed in their old 

But I cannot go on and on with this past history — certainly not 
now when the lights are going out. I had not intended to write all this 
but it is strange how the pen becomes almost an independent entity 
when one writes and sometimes does just what it likes. 



May 16 

Last night, when I sat down to write, I was trying to explain why the 
urge to write to you suddenly took possession of me. And instead of 
doing this in a straight fashion, I wandered into the past and began to 
lose myself in its mazes. It is an unfortunate way I have with you — as 
if I was talking casually and inconsequentially. 

What I was driving at was the extraordinary difficulty of my writing 
about these past six years in a book. I dared not do it and expose all 
my inmost feelings and torments to others. Not that there was any 
great secrecy about them, but some things are private and sacred 
because of that, especially when others are concerned. I am not a 
secretive person but there are limits even for me. There is much that 
I could tell you for you have the right to know. But even to you I 
could not say everything. It would hurt me and it might hurt you. 

So a feeling of suppression grew upon me. In jail this is always so 
and I try to find a way of escape m hard work, a regular routine, 
spinning, reading etc. In the past writing, doing creative work, has 
helped me tremendously. This avenue seemed to be closed this time. 

I looked forward to your coming back: you filled my mmd and this 
thought of you, tinged with anxiety about your health and journey, 
kept me more or less calm in spite of occasional worry. 

You arrived — you came to see me. That was an event for me. It 
was an event for many others. It was extraordinary how odd people 
were interested in this. Everyone in jail was somewhat excited about 
it. English police officials and others who saw me on business spoke 
about it with some enthusiasm. I felt how both you and I represent 
something more than our individual selves. We become symbols in 
the minds of countless people. 

You arrived and I was happy. But soon a cloud fell on my happiness 
for I realised that you were not as well as I had hoped and that there 
were troubles ahead of you. My training held, however, and 
immediately I grappled with the new problem and gave you advice 
as to what you might do. You accepted it for the moment and, though 
I had a dull feeling inside me about your health, I felt that we were 
going to face the situation in the most effective manner. 

You went away. Then Madan came and I learnt that on further 
consideration you had decided to follow a different course. Anyway 
Madan told me he had made arrangements at Solan and everything 
was practically fixed up. 

In spite of this disappointment I accepted the new arrangements. 



When I heard later, however, that the Solan visit had fallen through 
and that no arrangement was visible, then suddenly I was completely 
upset. What was this casualness and inefficiency, I thought, when every 
day counted and the heat was at its worst? I grew almost ill with 
anxiety and could do nothing but pace up and down like a caged 
animal, fretting at my inability to help you. It was absurd my not 
being able to help my ovm daughter when she required this help 
most. A word or a whisper from me and thousands all over the country 
would gladly do everything in their power for you. Yet things had 
taken such a shape that I could do little and had left everything to 
Madan. The whole thing was fantastic, absurd in its folly. Fancy 
everything being hung up because you had nowhere to go to! 

So I raged for two days and life became a terrible burden. I could 
do no work, could not even spin which soothes me. I could .sleep 
with difficulty and would suddenly sit up in the middle of the night 
unable to control or direct the ideas that battered my mind. Yesterday 
morning I got up about four a.m. and decided to write to Madan. I 
sent him this letter. This relieved me somewhat, for at any rate I had 
taken some step. 

But still my mind was ill at ease. I longed to meet you and talk to 
you. The desire to do so almost overwhelmed me. Yet I could not 
even write for an official jail letter was no good. 

In the evening it struck me suddenly that I could write to you 
fuUy and frankly, even though my letter might not be sent to you. 
Later perhaps you might see it. This was just a subterfuge, a trick, and 
yet, would you believe it? My mind calmed down immediately. I 
grasped at this way out. 

At last I sat down to write to you. And this was the beginning last 
night. . . . [incomplete] 


St Clair Cottage, 
22ud May, [1941] 

Darling Papu, 

We have just arrived. We reached St Clair Cottage to find the curtains 
up & vases of flowers and everything — just as if people had been 
living in it for weeks. 



The cottage is tiny: two very small bedrooms with Lilliputian 
bathrooms, one dining room & one drawing room. I am thinking of 
acquiring the drawing room as a bedroom for myself — the dining 
room can serve for sitting room as well. That will leave the two 
bedrooms for Madanbhai & Upadhyaya. 

Here is a plan of St Clair Cottage. 

I am afraid this is aU out of perspective but it will give some idea. 
All the rooms have lots of windows and are, I am told, sunny and airy. 
The view is lovely. And of course it is delightfully cool. 

Darling — ^please don’t worry. Everything will be all right. I was 
quite shocked to see how you had changed since I saw you last. You 
mustn’t let these things get you down. 

In some of your letters you have talked of joy and fulfilment. I 
have found mine. I have a serene happiness surging up from within, 
that no one and nothing can mar or take away from me. All troubles — 
illness and discomfort and disputes — -just seem to sail away on the 
surface without really touching me. Most people spend their lives 
waiting for happiness but the cup always seems to be just a little 
beyond their reach and they have not the courage to stretch their 
arms to grasp it. I took it in my two hands and drank deep into it — 
and it entered into every nerve and tissue of my mind and body, and 
bathed me in its rich warm calmness. I have this now and forever. 
Happiness is undefinable — ^how can my feeble attempts at description 
suffice when the great writers of the world have not succeeded? But I 
hope 1 have been able to convey at least one small part of what I feel. 

1 am glad to be alone. I was thinking of asking some friends to 



come up when Madanbhai goes away but I think I would rather be 
quite alone. I get on remarkably well with myself, which is a good 
thing. I forgot to bring the gramophone — or rather left it behind for 
lack of records. But I think I shall send for it & start buying a few 
good records one by one. I am starving for good music, especially 
Beethoven. It is a pity you have not made friends with him. He is the 
very essence of poetry, and he fits in to every mood — ^but I am always 
attempting the impossible; first I try to define Happiness and now, 
Beethovens music! 

I love you a lot and I am worried about you just as much as you are 
about me. So keep your sunny side up & look a lot better when I see 
you next. 

Much love, 


District Jail, 
Dehra Dim, 
26th May, 1941 

Darling Indu, 

I am very glad you are (more or less) comfortably established in your 
Httle cottage. 

It is a comfort to know that you are not far fix)m me and that news 
of you can reach me quickly. But I am sure that the first thing you 
should attend to is your rest and treatment. All this long journeying, 
ever since you left Switzerland many months ago, must have been 
exhausting and one can take no risks with your health. 

I am very fond of Beethoven, but my life has been spent far from 
the cultivation of the graces and pleasures which sometimes accompany 
it. I suppose I must not complain, for I have got a great deal out of it 
in my own way. Happiness is rather a fleeting thing, a sense of 
fulfilment is perhaps more abiding. 

But I was writing about music. Get the gramophone and records 
by aU means. It struck me that a radio might be useful. So with the 
help of some friends I have tried to make arrangements for a radio to 
be sent to you. 

Did Upadhyaya order the books I wanted? I forget to ask him. I 
sent the list with Puphi.They were chiefly Plato’s and the Greek plays 



translated by Gilbert Murray. 

Another book I have been wanting for a long time (and asking 
Upadhyaya for it) has been Kavita Kaumudi Part I. We had it in the 
library but it has disappeared. So a new copy can be obtained. 

All my love, 
Your loving, 


St Clair Cottage, 
28th May, 1941 

Darling Papu, 

Why did you bother about a radio? It is sweet of you. But we are 
spending so much already & these little things add up tremendously. 
Anyway the radio has not yet arrived. 

I am sorry you did not get the things you asked for. I personally 
was quite unaware that you had asked for them. Upadhyaya says he 
was not told either. I am writing to Allahabad. 

I have brought a most odd collection of books with me. Among 
them; Africa Danes’ Living Philosophies, Uncle Tom’s Children, Ernst 
Toller’s Letters from Prison & I was a German. And two or three others. 

The most attractive things in the whole house are a couple of 
postcard-size reproductions of two paintings of Franz Marc.^ Have 
you seen any of his work, I wonder? The Red Horses, which is in 
Chhoti Puphi’s sitting room, is one of his. His pictures are rather Hke 
Roy Campbell’s^ poetry, splashed with bright colours, brinuning over 
with vitahty and strength. So alive. And very decorative. 

I enclose a picture in words — Mrs Reece Laughs by Armstrong. It 
doesn’t pretend to be great poetry or a thing of beauty. But as a picture, 
isnt it perfect? It always amuses me when I am not feehng too bright. 
And doesn’t it remind you of Ammaji Thussu^ and so many other 
similar women! I had a landlady like that once — a Dutchwoman. 

1. Franz Marc (1880-1916): German painter, known especially for his paintings of 

2 Roy Campbell British poet. 

3. One of the senior ladies of the Thussu family Swarup Rani Nehru, Indira’s 
grandmother, came from this family. 


3 20 

Lots and lots of love, 

Mrs Reece Laughs 

Laughter, with us, is no great undertaking, 

A sudden wave that breaks and dies in breaking. 

Laughter, with Mrs Reece, is much less simple: 

It germinates, it spreads, dimple by dimple. 

From small beginnings, things of easy girth. 

To formidable redundancies of mirth. 

Clusters of subterranean chuckles rise 

And presently the circles of her eyes 

Close into slits, and all the woman heaves 

As a great elm with all its mound of leaves 

Wallows before the storm. From hidden sources 

A mustering of blind volcanic forces 

Takes her and shakes her till she sobs and gapes. 

Then all that load of bottled mirth escapes 
In one wild crow, a lifting of huge hands 
And creaking stays, and visage that expands 
In scarlet ridge and furrow. Thence collapse, 

A hanging head, a feeble hand that flaps 
An apron-end to stir an air and waft 
A steaming face. And Mrs Reece has laughed. 

Martin Armstrong 


2nd June, 1941 


I am in the throes of remorse and regret — as usual, when it is too late 
to remedy what has or, as in this case, has not been done. I am writing 
this because I believe one should always admit one’s mistakes even 
though it be too late to remedy them. 

How simple, practical and obvious was your advice! It was only 
my blind prejudice which prevented me from following it. Truly it is 



feebleminded to let oneself be so influenced by prejudice. What I 
am bitterly regretting now is not the consequence to myself. I am 
amazed at my selfishness. I should have lumped my feelings and 
thought a little of your feehngs. I seem to hurt you on purpose. I do 
not know what will be the result of this Calcutta visit. ^ To you it has 
already brought endless worry. Worry that I could so easily have 
prevented. Is it any use saying forgive me? 

I can only hope and pray that this worry will soon be at an end. I 
can only hope and pray that this will be a lesson for me to be less 
stubborn. For this episode only proves how much I need you — how 
utterly lost 1 am without you. I have been so arrogant and stupid. I 
tried to sail out on my own before I knew the rudiments of managing 
a boat. I deserve to sink. And yet that would cause you so much pain. 

‘“Take what you want — Take it, and pay for it” said God’ — so 
runs an old Spanish proverb. But why, oh why, must others pay too? 

In some of your letters you say that you do not wish to impose 
yourself or your advice. Perhaps it is my own attitude that has made 
you feel this way. For that I am sincerely sorry. Far from being an 
imposition, your advice is the strongest prop on which I can lean — 
for my own legs are pretty shaky. And I can only explain my former 
attitude in one way — that I did not realise how necessary this prop 
was to me until it was proved to me that my legs would give way 
tvithout it. 

And so the erring child asks for forgiveness, and asks too that you 
believe her when she says that she loves you . . . Tons les jours je t’aime 
daimtage, attjourd’hui plus qiThier et bicn inoins que demain? For each 
day I discover something in you which moves me profoundly and 
makes you more precious and infinitely dearer. I seem to be just 
beginning to have a glimpse at the beauty and the richness in you. In 
the past you were rather an [unjapproachable being, always so 
immersed in work and, for all your love of fun, I was rather scared of 
you — ^you seemed so high up. One feels so inferior when you are 
about and I suppose that unconsciously one resents it. 

With very much love, 

3 The proposed Calcutta visit was for a medical consultation. 

2 . . .With every passing day I love your more 6c more, today more than yesterday and 
much less than tomorrow. 



Distria Jail, 
Dehra Dun, 
12 th June, 1941 

Darling Indu, 

I wonder when you will come back this way. I suppose you will stay 
on in Calcutta for another week at least as Dr Roy wnts to keep you 
under observation. 

Just outside our barrack wall there is a little channel for canal 
water to pass through to the field. Right through the summer this 
channel was used once or twice a fortnight and the water pouring 
down it, and gurgling as it went, made a merry noise. Especially at 
night, it was pleasant to hear this sound of running water. 

A noise like of a hidden brook 
In the leafy month of June, 

That to the sleeping woods all night 
Singeth a quiet tune . . . 

I suppose in prison one’s ears grow sharper and many other senses, 
which lie dormant during an active life outside, waken up and so 
open out a new world of sensation, just as a blind man becomes far 
more sensitive in other ways. Birds and insects and of course flowers 
become real companions whose acquaintance we renew fiom day to 
day. A creeper is a fascinating thing. Have you ever watched its sensitive 
feelers — how fuU of life they are! — creeping on and on and holding 
on to twig or string or wall? In Sanskrit poetry women are always 
likened to creepers! Bengali names of girls are full of Lata ’s.^ 

Good firiends in Dehra Dun have been sending us firuit — ^luscious, 
delicious fimit grown here on the foothills or from other places. Grapes, 
locally grown, plums, pineapples (not grown here!), langras and dasehris 
just beginning and fine apples. Yesterday we had a pleasant surprise 
when a basket of lovely cherries aU the way from Kashmir came our 
way. So you see we have compensations in jail! 

I am beginning to think again of doing some writing work. For 
the moment I am just playing about with the idea, revolving it in my 

1. Lata in Sansknt means a ‘creeper’. 



mind, sometimes pushing it away, and then allowing it to come nearer. 
I know that once I give in to it, it will obsess me and my pen wiU 
become a tyrant ordering me about and interfering with my 
programme and other activities. 

American reviews of my book have had curious reactions on me. 
Pleasant of course. And yet all this talk about style and lucidity rather 
frightens me. I wrote previously without thinking of style. I had to 
say something and I said it as simply and effectively as possible. Now 
I cannot forget that I have to keep up to a certain style and standard 
and this continuing reminder is a nuisance. 

What IS this much-praised style of mine, I begin to think? A certain 
simphcity and a certain lucidity in short sentences, partly due to clear 
thinking and having something to say. But partly also, I think, to a 
certain rhythm and a love of the sound of words. I hate an ill-balanced 
sentence. It jars. Why this rhythm? I do not know. It is not just an 
external thing, an ear for it or an eye to balance it. It has to do ultimately 
with a mental rhythm, or perhaps something even deeper than that. 
During these past twenty years or so, while you have been growing 
up, slowly this sense of rhythm in life has grown within me as ideas 
and action fitted in, or at least approached each other. It is a soothing 
and comforting experience and it helps greatly in the tug-of-war of 

It is curious how the manner of writing (even more than the 
manner of speaking) betrays a person. The style is the man, they say. 
When outside prison I get a large number of letters from strangers 
and I have developed a habit of drawing a mental picture of the writer 
from the few sentences he may have written. 

I should like you to ask Dr Roy about breathing exercises. Can 
you do them regularly? Personally I am a great behever in them, not 
only for bodily health but to some extent for mental health also. These 
exercises bring rhythm (I am at it again!) to the breathing and through 
It to the whole bodily system. They create the background and 
environment for composure and mental calm. Look at a person in a 
temper or one who is agitated. He breathes heavily and shortly. It is a 
litde difficult to conceive of a person who breathes deeply and regularly 
becoming easily agitated! So I would hke you to try these exercises 
and hold on to them. 

Your loving, 


3 24 


Indira Nelmi, 
c/o Dr B C Roy, 
36, Wellington Street, 
16th June, 1941 

Darling Papu, 

Upadhyaya has gone to Allahabad. There has been a new arrival in 
his family. I do not know whether it’s a boy or a girl, but guess it must 
be the latter because of the lack of enthusiasm. 

The monsoon has started in right earnest. Outside, trees and leaves 
are bright in a varnish of rain. Big, beautifully-shaped drops, round 
and perfect as pearls, balance themselves on the tips of petals of flowers 
and blades of grass. 

I have been given a horrid bitter tonic. It contains all sorts of 
essentials — iron phosphates, calcium phosphates & what nots. Who 
was it that said, ‘The drive to take medicine is perhaps the greatest 
feature which distinguishes man from animals’? 

. . . Here is a delightful story about praying. A little Negro boy was 
competing in a race. He kept dropping behind and his chances seemed 
slim; then suddenly his lips began to move with great regularity, his 
legs picked up speed, and he won the race. Asked later what he was 
whispering to himself, he said he was talking to the Lord, saying over 
and over: ‘Lawd, you pick ‘em up, and I’ll put ‘em down. You pick ‘em 
up, and rU put ‘em down.’ Isn’t it sweet? 

Much love, 


District Jail, 
Dehra Dun, 
29th June, 1941 

Darling Indu, 

It was a joy to see you [the] day before yesterday after three and a half 
weelcs. The interview ended all too soon. I want to make up for all 
your long absences from me. There is so much I want to ask you, to 
teU you, to discuss with you. Not argument and debate — the less we 



have yet to be written. But we cannot wait for them. We must profit 
by what we have got. Indeed there are far more books now on the 
subject than there were when I was a boy. I remember well still the 
excitement v^th which I saw and read Vincent Smith’s Early History of 
India. I was very young then and did not understand all I read. But 
this book suddenly opened out vast vistas before me and India’s past, 
which had been a blank in my mind, became filled with great deeds. 
That book ofVincent Smith’s, though far firom good (no English I.C.S. 
[Indian Civil Service] man can write a really good book about India) 
was the first of its kind and it created, not only in me but in others, a 
new outlook and a certain pride in our past. 

Havell’s History of Aryan Rule in India is not very good history 
(official historians disfike HaveU intensely) but it is a good book, 
imaginative, understanding and based on the artistic record of India. 
HaveU was an artist. One book worth reading for the British period is 
Thompson & Garrett’s Rise & Fulfilment of British Rule in India. 
(Thompson is our old firiend of Boars HiU.) This is a hefty tome but 
fight reading. We might as weU know something of this sorry record 
of British rule which we want to displace. 

It would also be worthwhile for you to go to our oldest history 
book — the Rajatarangini^ which Ranjit translated in prison. This book 
is a big one. Many parts of it are duU reading, some parts are very 
interesting. As a whole it is a tour de force of Kalhana, the author. Ranjit’s 
translation has many appendices which are important. 

Have you read Kafidas’s Shakuntala? or the Mrichhakatika?^ The play 
Ranjit has been recently translating — the Mudrarakshasa^ — should be 
read also. It is peculiarly interesting just at present as it deals with 
politics and war and spying and fifth column activity etc — aU over 
2000 years ago! 

Write to Amma (Nani) some time. When you do so send her my 



• - Papu 

1. Rajatarangini (River of Kings): a poem in Sanskrit by Kalhana, narrating the history 
of Kashmir up to the tsvelfth century. 

2. Mrkhchakatika (orThe Clay Cart); a drama in Sanskrit by King Shudraka, vmtten in 
the first or second century AD. 

3. Mudrarakshasa (The Signet of the Minister): a drama in Sanskrit by Vishakadatta, 
dating back to the eleventh or twelfth century AD. 




District Jail, 
Dehra Dun, 
28th July, 1941 

Darling Indu, 

During the past few months I have read many books on 
mountaineering in India — almost always among the Garhwal 
mountains. I was surprised and pleased to find that there is complete 
agreement among those Englishmen & Americans who have taken 
part in these expeditions that Garhwal has the most beautiful mountains 
and valleys m the world. This really applies to the higher regions of 
Garhwal and not to the dusty and rather bare valleys and hillsides 
below. In these upper regions there is an extraordinary and enchanting 
mixture of magnificent snow peaks, thick forests and valleys carpeted 
with lovely flowers. Indeed of one such valley, appropriately named 
the Valley of Flowers, it is said that it has no rival anywhere. 

You and I, in our respective abodes, are on the verge of Garhwal. 
I can see the Garhwal foothills from here and a longish walk will take 
you to the district boundary. The knowledge of this surpassing beauty, 
so near us and yet so far from this warring world, so peaceful and 
unperturbed by human foUy, excites me. Those strange people who 
were our ancestors in the long ago felt tire wonder of these mountains 
and valleys and, with the unerring instinct of genius, yoked this sense 
of awe and wonder to man s old yearning for something higher than 
life’s daily toil and conflicts offered, something with the impress of 
the eternal upon it. And so for two thousand years or more, 
innumerable pilgrim souls have marched through these valleys and 
mountains to Badrinath and Kedarnath and Gangotri, from where 
the baby Ganga emerges, so tiny and frolicsome, but to grow and 
grow in her long wandering till she becomes the noble river that 
sweeps by Prayag and Kashi and beyond. 

Shall I ever go wandering again in these mountains, and pierce 
the forest and cUmb the snows and feel the thrill of the precipice and 
the deep gorge? And then lie in deep content on a thick carpet of 
mountain flowers and gaze on the fiery splendour of the peaks as 
they catch the rays of the setting sun? Shall I sit by the side of the 
youthful and turbulent Ganga in her mountain home and watch her 
throw her head in a swirl of icy spray in pride and defiance, or creep 
round lovingly some favoured rock and take it into her embrace? 



And then rush down joyously over the boulders and hurl herself with 
a mighty shout over some great precipice? I have known her so long 
as a sedate lady, seemingly calm but, for aU that, the fire is in her veins 
even then, the fiery vitality of youth and the spirit of adventure, and 
this breaks out from time to time when her peaceful waters seem 
angry and tumble over each other and spread out over vast areas. 

I love the rivers of India and I should like to explore them firom 
end to end, and to go back deep into the dawn of history and watch 
the processions of men and women, of cultures and civilisations, going 
down the broad streams of these rivers. The Indus, the Brahmaputra, 
the Ganga, and also that very lovable river of ours — the Jamuna. 

How I begin musing when I write to you. 

Your loving, 


District Jail, 
Dehra Dun, 
17th September, 1941 


I hope you are flourishing and profiting by the drier weather. The 
real good weather in Mussoorie will begin soon. 

For the past two years it has been my practice to buy some khadi 
hundies^ during Gandhi Jayanti and distribute these — some to 
Upadhyaya, some to the servants. I think this might be kept up. I am 
therefore enclosing a cheque for Rs 100. 

The hiwdies should be distributed in this way: 

Upadhyaya — 30/- 
Bhola — 10/- 

Hari — 10/- I suppose he will soon be out 
Other servants — 50/- division as you like 

But remember that my favourite is Lakchamania, who is the oldest 
member of our household. 

1 . Coupons for buying cloth 



I have got a copy at last of Tlie Unity of India. It was sent by a friend 
who purchased it in Delhi. I like the get-up of the book. Krishna has 
taken a lot of trouble over it. 

Your loving, 


16th March, 1942^ 

Indu darling, 

Maulana has just sent me a pair of pearl bracelets (I suppose that is 
the right name) for you. They are not frightfully expensive I suppose 
but stiU such gifts, especially from the Maulana, are a Httle embarrassing. 
Kamalnayan^ says he will be coming to the wedding.^ 

Please have a No. 3 (Party card) sent to Raghupati Sahai of the 
University. He is a lecturer, I think in the English Dept. He is an old 
colleague of mine who drifted away and became rather useless. He is 
a bit of an Urdu poet with the poetic name of Firaq. 

Also I think No. 3 invitation should be sent to Mr & Mrs Bhagwat 
Dayal — also of the University — & Kayastha Pathshala. I had, rather 
dehberately, left his name out when we were trying to limit the Hsts. 
But now that many other names have been included, I think he might 
be added also. 

The invitations had better be sent to Mr & Mrs. 

Your loving, 

1 Jawaharlal Nehru was released from pnson about ten weeks after he wrote letter No 
283, dated 17 September 1941. Since he and Indira were together atAnand Bhawan, 
there is a six-month break in the correspondence. 

2 Kanialnayan Bajaj; son ofjamnalal Bajaj 

3- The reference is to Indira’s wedding — ^26 March 1942 




New Delhi, 
7th April, 1942 


I have had no news from you, except for your telegram^ since I came 
here. We tussle daily with problems and they take new turns and put 
on new shapes. And so we go on from day to day and meanwhile war 
has reached India.^ 

Madame Chiang wrote to me that she wanted to send you as a 
wedding gift something she had valued in her girlhood. I do not 
know what this is but she was trying to get it from some odd place. 

The other day I met Shuaib Qureshi^ here and he expressed his 
sorrow at not having been invited to your marriage. I am sorry I 
missed him out. I remember his sending a telegram of congratulations. 
I would like you to write to him and thank him for his good wishes. 

Your loving, 

You might also write a few lines to Sir Stafford Cripps'* to thank 
him for the good wishes he sent you through me. 


5 Fort Road^ 
9th April, [1942] 

Darling Papu, 

About Kashmir nothing is definite yet. There is an increasing likelihood 

1. Telegram not traceable. 

2. After the fall ofBurma in March 1942 the Japanese armies stood on the Indian fiontier. 

3. Shuaib Qureshi: son-in-law of Maulana Mohamed Ali; journalist and politician; 
moved to Pakistan after partition; was later Ambassador of Pakistan to U.S.S.R., 
1949-52, and High Comrmssioner in India 1952—3. 

4. The socialist politician who was head of a mission to India in 1 942 for constitutional 
talks with Indian leaders. 

5. As already indicated Indira and Feroze were married on 26 March 1942. After their 
marriage they set up house (the Tagore Town house) at 5 Fort Road, now known as 
Jawaharlal Nehm Road. 



of all transport being dislocated as soon as the Japanese strike at any 
of the important junctions. I don’t like the idea of being cut off in far- 
off Kashmir. And if anything is to happen in Allahabad I want to be 
here. I don’t really feel like going away at all. This is no time for 
anybody to take a holiday — can’t I stay and do something? I’m so 
tired of being at a loose end. 

Much love, 


Tlie White House, 
25th May, 1942 

Darling Papu, 

We had a fairly busy time in Lahore after you left — but I enjoyed 
myself. Yunus, with the help of Nawabzada Saheb, made most efficient 
arrangements for our journey. We had a first class coupe, very clean 
and cool (for water was sprayed on the roof). We reached Pindi at 
seven forty-five a.m. and were met by the Sardar. After a quick bath & 
breakfast we drove here in a spacious and very posh Plymouth, arriving 
just in time for lunch. It is very pleasant here. We leave for Srinagar 
tomorrow morning. 

Very much love, 


21th May, 1942 

Darling Indu, 

I came in direct from Delhi. I felt that I must see Bapu as soon as 
possible even though for a short while. 

In Delhi 1 met Louis Fischer (the man who was in Russia for 
many years as Nation’s correspondent). I shall probably see more of 



At Delhi also I learnt of Ballo’s^ return from a somewhat odd 
source. A certain Colonel or Captain Schuiter rolled up at Rajan’s^ 
place on a motor bicycle and informed me that he had flown over 
with my nephew. He added that Lady WiUingdon^ had sent me her 
love! Also that he was a Harrow man. He was a tail, Haw-Haw type of 
a person. 

I hope you had a good journey and are comfortably housed in 
Srinagar. Do not hurry back to the plains. On your way back, if it is 
possible, you might visit the Frontier Province and spend a day or 
two with Dr Edian Sahib'^ in Peshawar. You should of course see Abdul 
Ghaffar Khan also but I am more anxious about Khan Sahib. As you 
know, he had a difficult time recently and has been surrounded by 
hostility. Every manifestation of fiiendship and aflfection will be good 
for him. 

Give my love to BaUo and remember me to Sheikh Abdullah. 

Your loving, 


[nth July, 1942] 


Anand Bhawan, 


Back firom Kolahoi brown as chocolate fit. 

Happy love 


1. Balwant Kumar Nehru; son ofjawaharlal Nehru’s first cousin, Brijlal Nehru. 

2. Rajan Nehru: wife ofjawaharlal Nehru’s nephew Ratan Kumar Nehru. 

3. Lady Willingdon; wife of Lord Willingdon, the Viceroy and Governor-General of 
India, 1931—6. 

4. Dr Klian Sahib; brother of Abdul Ghaffar Khan (see Pohtical Circle) and a friend of 
Jawaharlal during his student days in London;Pnme Minister, North-West Frontier 
Province, 1937-9 and 1945-7; Chief Minister, West Pabstan, 1955-7. 




5th July, 1942 

Darling Papu, 

Do forgive me for not writing for such ages. When one has nothing to 
do one seems to get all the lazier. And then, I am so full of the joy of 
discovering Kashmir. I just had not realised it was so very beautiful. 

On our return from Kolahoi we went straight to Srinagar without 
stopping even at Pahalgam. Soon afterwards the Vakils left for Bombay 
and Sheikh Saheb took us to Gulmarg. I agree with you about 
Gulmarg — I don’t like it one bit, but Sheikh Saheb was very keen on 
our staying with his family for a few days. We spent four days there — 
Yunus was with us. Then we came to Srinagar and spent three days 
on a houseboat. Three glorious moonlit nights. 

On to Mohanmarg — King of Margs. Truly if there is a heaven it 
must be this. There is nothing in Switzerland to compare with these 
flower-fiUed slopes, the sweet-scented breezes. Maybe there are other 
things besides running water that pour over the soul the anodyne of 
forgetfulness and peace. I wish I could stay on here longer. But we 
have tied up our plans with Yunus and so tomorrow we proceed to 

How you would love it here — ^yesterday we got up at five to see 
the sunrise on Nanga Parbat. It will be a rude shock to find ourselves, 
one hot and sticky day, in the ugliness of Allahabad. 

Since I cannot bottle the beauty of Mohanmarg, I am sending you 
two little flowers as a token — forget-me-not and edelweiss. They both 
grow in abundance along with anemone, buttercups, Dutch sHppers 
and a host of other so-called Alpine flowers. There are some wild 
animals as well but the only one we have seen is the marmot, which 
is like a giant rat. Rather sweet and soft. 

Feroze has taken some films. I hope they will come out well. We 
have not seen them ourselves yet. 

Feroze sends his love & Yunus his salaam. 

Much love, 


I enclose a letter on birch-bark from Sheikh Saheb. 




[1942 ivas a momentous year for India and for the Nelims. Within the country 
there mas a massive growth of sentiment for liberation from British mle. In 
response to this, Congress leaders, including fawaharlal Nehru, who was 
accompanied by Indira and her husband, Feroze, assembled in Bombay and on 
8th August adopted a resolution — popularly known as the Quit India 
Resolution — asking the British to hand over India to her people, fawaharlal 
Nehru was arrested on 9th August and imprisoned in Ahmadnagar Fort. The 
entire country was shaken by an anti-British upsurge for the next few months, 
which was controlled by the British Government through repression.] 


Anand Bhawan, 
4th September, 1942 

Darling Papu, 

It is good news indeed that I may write to you and, it may be, receive 
letters from you. 

There are four of us staying here now. Tara, Rita, their new Chinese 
governess, Mrs Chew, and I. Chand is with her mother. Mrs Chew is 
a refugee from Singapore. She is thirty-one years old and rather nice. 
There was great excitement at lunch today. Remembering how thrilled 
Mr Woo was when we produced chopsticks, I had them brought out 
for Mrs Chew. 

Because of the military,^ we have got several new restaurants and 
even the oldest & most decrepit are doing good business. Among the 
new is a Chinese restaurant and a place which calls itself the ‘Broadway 
Blues’. They both look pretty dismal from outside. I don’t think 
anything will ever look ‘gay’ in Allahabad — ^leastways not until we 
have the sort of parties we used to long ago in Anand Bhawan. 

. . . At the moment there is a blot on our horizon. You must 
remember how poor little Tangle was not looking too bright before 
we went to Bombay. Latterly he just got worse & worse until suddenly 
he started having the most awfully painful fits. He would give piteous 
cries and writhe in agony. The vet tried all sorts of things but in the 
end we had to have him destroyed. We all miss him awfully, 

Johnnie Walker^ is still going strong. He is less vicious now and 

1 . The reference is to soldiers posted in India during the war. 

2. A pet dog. 



doesn’t greet every arrival & departure with his awful trumpeting. 
He has acquired a rather distant companion in the shape of a peacock 
who is also living in the garden. They do not seem to care much for 
each other’s company, or it may be they have both got used to sohtude. 

Everybody here sends you heaps & heaps of love and a tight hug 

Your loving 


Amnd Bhawan, 
9th September, 1942 

Darling Papu, 

Why still no news of you? Puphi has had a letter from Rajabhai and 
Bebee from her mother.^ Bebee writes every two days asking after 
you and, of course, I have no more news than she. Did you get my 

The latest addition to the menage is a monkey! I am afraid he is 
most unwelcome. He has been coming for the last three days making 
a thorough nuisance of himself. This afternoon he locked himself in 
the kitchen and ate up all our vegetables, so that it is extremely doubtful 
whether we will have any dinner! I think he must be somebody’s pet, 
for he is very well-fed and has a lovely silky coat. 

Very much love, 

1. Raja Hutheesing and Sarojini Naidu (Bebee’s mother) were imprisoned, as was 
Jawaharlal Nehru, during the ‘Quit India’ movement.The former two were able to 
communicate with their relatives. Jawaharlal Nehru refused to accept the condiaons 
of censorship 

Section II 
Prison Walls 

( 1942 - 1945 ) 

[Indira and her husband, Feroze, were fully dramt into the tumultuous events 
of 1942. On their return to Allahabad front Bombay, after the passing of the 
Quit India Resolution, they organised the anti-British agitation in Allahabad. 
On iOth September Feroze was arrested for convening a public meeting and 
Indira was arrested while addressing it. Both were taken to Naini Prison, but 
were lodged in different sections, unable to communicate with each other. Later 
Feroze was moved to Faizabad Jail. Indira shared prison life with Vijaya 
Lakshmi Pandit, Chandralekha Mehta, Purnima Banetjee (Nora) and Vimla 
Varma, and was released on 13th May, 1943. Feroze was released from 
Faizabad Jail on 8th July, 1943 on grounds of ill health.] 


Somewhere in India, 
but not at Anand Bhawan, 
18th September, 1942 

Darling Indu, 

It is now a month and nine days since I said goodbye to you and came 
here and for the first time I am writing a letter. About three weeks ago 
we were told that we could write letters subject to a number of 
restrictions and limitations. Yet I have not written aU this time to 
anyone, much as I would have liked to write to you. But being 
somewhat perverse by nature I did not take kindly to these restrictions 
and I postponed writing till I felt in a better mood for it. 

I was very happy to get your letter and to know that you were well 
and flourishing. 

As for myself, there is Httle to say. You know that I can manage to 
fit in almost anywhere and keep my body and mind in active condition. 
One of my numerous failings is that I expect others to do so also and 
when they do not keep up to the mark, I become a nuisance to 
them. Here I have Mahmud especially to look after, with all his 
ailments, and I am not sure whether he enjoys all my ministrations 
and good advice which he receives in great abundance. So also others 
m a lesser degree. 

I have enough clothes and other necessaries for the time being. 

As for books, of course, they are always welcome. When I came 
here I had three with me: Plato’s Republic, Marcel Proust’s A la recherche 
du temps perdu (2 vols) and Lin Yu-tang’s With Love and Irony — an odd 



mixture. I read through Plato again in a leisurely way, allowing myself 
to absorb him as far as I could and adding to my admiration for him. 
Proust seemed to belong to some other and far-away world, or like 
faint memories of a vanishing age. And yet he wrote these books after 
I had left Cambridge. How this world of ours has changed and is 

In prison I go back almost automatically to good old classical 

Maulana is an extraordinarily interesting compardon. The more I 
know him, and I have known him now for over twenty-one years, the 
more I find in him. I wish I could profit more by this enforced 
companionship. Meanwhile, I am having a peep into Urdu poetry. 
He tells me, or rather writes for me, a verse or two daily. 

There is one small matter which has been in my mind for some 
time. I presume market prices have risen and are rising from day to 
day. This must affect our servants greatly. They were being given some 
kind of extra allowance but in view of the rise in prices, this cannot 
go far. I want them to be treated fairly and generously in tliis matter. I 
am writing to Betty about this matter so that she can communicate 
with Ladli Bhai. 

How does one spend one’s time in prison, the ignorant wonder? 
There is reading and writing of course. But apart from this there are 
innumerable other activities which are fascinating. I remember 
spending long hours in Dehra Dun watching ants and wasps and 
various insects. It was not a cold-blooded scientific survey but a human, 
fnendly companionship, and I grew quite fond of them. Here, on a 
very ordinary patch of wild grass and dried-up ground within our 
prison yard with a few pebbles lying about, we have discovered an 
amazing collection of fine stones of all manner of colours. AsafAli is 
particularly expert at this game. We are building up almost a museum 
of these. 

I do not know where you are, but wherever you may be I hope it 
is well with you, my dear. Send my love to Feroze. 

[Your loving,] 

1 . A Congressman of Delhi; later Indian Ambassador to the United States. 




From the Unmentionable Place! 

15th October, 1942 

Darling Indu, 

It is nearly a month now since I heard from you or wrote to you. 

What do you do? How do you occupy yourself? There is nothing 
like taking to gardening. Even apart from the beauty that flowers give 
to our surroundings, the joy of tending them and seeing them grow 
and bloom from day to day is a fascinating business. 

So I hope you will take to gardening. It does not matter much 
whether you do it well or badly, whether you arrange the flowers in 
the right order or not. It is the act of doing it that matters and one 
learns more from this than from books. I suppose you can easily get 
flower seeds. Sweet peas are, I think, the most suitable flowers for one 
in jail. They appeal equally to the sight and the sense of smell. Get 
good tools. It is pleasant to use a clean good tool. You should not dig. 
But there are many other operations that you could do 

For the last month or more we have been thinking of growing 
flowers here. The soil is none too good, being stony, but that can be 
remedied with labour. We have been trying to get seeds — so far without 
success. Meanwhile, I have been doing a fair amount of digging and 
that is good in itself. I feel pleasantly weary afterwards and a sense of 
well-being fills me. I was a little afraid that I might not be able to dig 
as my right arm has grown strangely weak during the past year and 
even a hard game of badminton was a painful affair. I discovered this 
in Dehra Dun and I think I told you about it then. 

But, strange to say, digging, though a much heavier task, did not 
affect the forearm that way. It was the turning and twisting of badminton 
that gave twinges of pain. In addition, I have been carrying on with 
some other moderate exercises, the shirshasana, etc, and of course 

I have just finished reading Hogben s Science for the Citizen — a 
huge tome of nearly 1100 pages, with Horrabin’s illustrations. It is an 
amazing performance, this book, and though sometimes it is heavy 
reading and the mathematical formulae are none too easy, on the 
whole It is an astonishingly good book. I am anxious now to read 
Hogben’s other book — Mathematics for the Millions — but I cannot get 

Another fat tome that I am reading now, but a very different one. 



is an ancient Chinese novel, ^ written at various times several centuries 
ago. I have Pearl Buck’s translation and it runs to 1279 pages! 

This [is] an ideal opportunity for me to improve my Urdu. Maulana 
writes down for me an Urdu couplet or two every other day out of 
the vast stores accumulated in his mind. Thus I am getting an insight 
into Urdu poetry. He has an astonishing memory and his information 
on a variety of subjects is encyclopaedic. He is soaked in the lore of 
the Middle Ages and especially of the Arab world and Western Asia 
and India during Muslim times. He has Plato and Aristotle at his 
fingertips and is perfectly at home at Cordoba^ of Arab Spain. He is 
full of intimate anecdotes of kings and scholars of the past. It seems 
such a pity that with such vast learning and a very unusually keen 
mind and a powerful style, he should have written so little, when 
third-rate people are continually producing tenth-rate books. Do you 
know that when he was barely fifteen he was delivering lectures in 
logic and philosophy to learned audiences! 

I write on — but I must take pity on the various bright persons 
who win have to read through all this — all the Sherlock Holmeses 
and the Watsons, chiefly the latter — and whose eagle eyes are ever in 
search of lese majeste against the British imperial fabric. But if I write 
too much, they might roll themselves in wrath and wreak vengeance 
on this letter, consigning it to some dusty pigeonhole. 

My love to you, 
Your loving, 


[Ahmaduagar Fort Prison,] 
5th March, 1943 

Darling Indu, 

What an age it is since I wrote to you or had a letter fi-om you! Ever 
since you were a tiny tot and learnt laboriously to spell out your 
letters and write a fantastic hand, I do not think there has ever been 
such a lengthy period without my writing to you. Whether I was m 

1 . All Men Are Brothers, translntion of the Cliinese classic Slitii Itti Chuan by Shih Nai-an 

2. During the Omayyad period (756—1031), Cordoba was a centre of Muslim and 
Jewish cultures and a seat of learning. 



prison or you were thousands of miles away, I continued to write 
from time to time. Not so this time. Need I say how I have missed 
this? Long afterwards I learnt that my letters did not reach you as no 
letters were allowed to detenus in the U.P.,’ nor were they allowed to 

More than two months ago I read in some newspaper that you 
were now allowed to write. I am writing now hardly a proper letter, 
but more to find out if this reaches you, and whether it is worthwhile 
my writing to you. 

I understand you are in Naini and I am addressing this letter 
there ... So far as we are concerned, we may not say where we are — 
that is supposed to be a dead secret, though everybody seems to know 
about it! 

Towards the end of November I received a message about you 
tlirough various provincial Govts as usual. This was to the effect that 
you had been examined by the Civil Surgeon of Allahabad and that 
though your health was indifferent, there had been no marked 
deterioration since your arrest and detention. That was not a pleasing 
message and it did not cheer me up. Naini Prison is not a health 
resort at any time of the year. The female part of it is peculiarly 
disagreeable and it is no easy matter to put up with it. As summer 
approaches I find it more and more difficult not to worry about your 

We have been here now for nearly seven months. This is your first 
experience [of prison] and you have had six months of it. I do hope 
you have been able to adjust yourself to it and have tried to profit 
even from its tremendous inconveniences and utter boredom. 

I have just been reading about the Greeks — I have read through 
all these extant tragedies and comedies — and I came across a pregnant 
passage. Athens had destroyed Melos utterly — unoffending, innocent 
Melos — and not a man or woman or child was left there to tell the 
tale. But soon other people came to live in that island, and once more 
there was corn in her little valleys and men sat in her city market 
place drinking the sweet -wine from her hill-sides. 

Where bled her children hangs the loaded sheaf. 

Forgetful is green earth: the Gods alone 

1. Indira Gandhi was imprisoned in the Naini Central Jail, UP., from 1 1th September, 
1942 to 13th May. 1943. 



Remember everlastingly: they strike 

Remorselessly, and ever like for like. 

By their great memories the Gods are known. 

But the gods seem to have had their day and have sunk into 
everlasting sleep, and man, as H. G. Wells tells us, has yet to develop 
into Homo Sapiens. He is brute still and his brutish qualities are only 
too evident. But while war goes on with all its horror and desolation 
and misery, nature carries on unheeding and unconcerned. 

I have a habit of forgetting where I am, and forgetting even the 
course of events. Sometimes I would think of Mummie and want to 
tell her something. Sometimes you would seem to be quite near me. 

Betty sent me an electric shaver, which was very welcome as blades 
are scarce. I rather liked this gadget and the thought came to me that 
I might get one for Feroze and one for Ranjit. Then I realised that 
this was not easy and I could hardly reach them. And anyway they 
would not have electric current where they were. 

Soon you will have your wedding anniversary and the first year of 
your wedded life will be over — ^most of it spent in Naini Prison! 
Perhaps this experience has much good in it if we know how to extract 

I would have written to you sooner but the last three weeks or 
more have been abnormal . . . Now that Bapu’s fast^ is successfully 
accomplished a weight is off my mind and I can write. 

Give my love to Nan and Chand. I hope both are well and keep 
good cheer. I hope Feroze and Ranjit are also well. 

My love to you, my dear. 
Your loving, 

1. Mahatma Gandhi undertook a tvventy-one-day fast from 10 February to 3 March 
1943 in protest against the Government’s accusation that he was responsible for the 
disturbances and violence m the country after 9 August 1942. 




Naini Central Prison, 
25th March, 1943 

Darling, darling Papu, 

At last your letter' has come — almost three weeks after it was written. 
But what is three weeks after a silence of seven months? All these 
months I have been \vaiting and waiting and was finally giving up all 
hope of hearing from you. And all the time, miles away, you were 
waiting too. 'You behind one set of walls and I behind another. Is it 
funny or is it sad? I don’t really know. Soon I shall have to say "with 
Beaumarchais’s^ Figaro: ‘Je me presse de rire de tout, de peur d’etre oblige 
d’en pleurer.^ However, the fault is neither yours nor mine. Your 
information is quite correct. I cannot write to you of my own accord 
but I may reply to any letter of yours delivered to me. 

In the Female Ward (ghastly name) our numbers are dwindling 
fast. Many have served their sentence and been released, convicted 
prisoners with longer sentences are transferred to other jails. We are 
missing some of them, especially those with children. For three months 
we had the most adorable baby — ^aged four to seven months. It was 
fascinating to watch her grow under our very eyes, making new noises, 
learning some new trick each day. While she was here I took her 
almost completely under my wing. She flourished on the schedule 
we drew up for her — sunbath, massage, orange juice, etc. Though this 
afforded much amusement to her mother and the other women, who 
thought it a huge joke that such a fuss should be made over a mere 
baby — and a girl-child at that! I didn’t realise what a lot of time I had 
spent on wee Sarala until suddenly it was time for her to go. She had 
come in dirty & miserably thin with a bad cold and a dazed look. She 
left, pink & round, purring with comfort & sheer content and -with a 
mischievous twinkle in her eye. 

Feroze was transferred to Fyzabad about a couple of weeks ago. 
Before that we were allowed a brief interview once a fortnight. Just 
before leaving for Fyzabad, Feroze had something the matter with 

1. Refers to letter dated 5 March 1943 (No 295). 

2. Beaumarchais, title assumed by Pierre Augustin Caron (1732—99), French dramatist. 
Figaro is the hero in Beaumarchais’s Barber of Seville and The Marriage of Figaro 

3. I make haste to laugh at everything for fear of being obliged to cry.’ 



one foot. It got swollen to a tremendous size and he was in excruciating 
pain for a few days. You can surely guess at the efficiency or, rather, 
the lack of it that prevails here in these matters as well as in all others. 

After all these months I have still not got used to reading by lantern 
hght, and anyway it is much too hot to sit near a lantern, so I go to 
bed very early. There is nothing to stay up for. Outside the moon may 
be up — ‘the lovely moon lifting slowly her white brow among bronze 
cloud- waves . . . her soft Hght faffing lightly on roof and poplar and 
pine’. But we cannot see her. Only rarely are Orion or the Pleiades or 
Cassiopeia vaguely discernible before we have between us and the 
stars, ugly iron bars and the red tiles of our roof. We may, later on, be 
allowed to sleep out. 

Don’t worry about me, darhng. What was it Gurudev said, ‘Pray 
not for the stiffing of thy pain but for the heart to conquer it’. Through 
no fault of mine I have been equipped with a frail body, which has 
always been a great nuisance. But in spite of it — or is it because of 
it? — my inside is steadily getting tougher. And I think I can honestly 
‘thank whatever Gods may be for my unconquerable soul’. 

Pupha has as usual managed to have a lovely garden and he 
sometimes sends us flowers. He gave some seeds to Chand, so we had 
some pots — ^petunias, cornflower, sweet sultans, poppies, nasturtiums, 
sweet peas and pinks. Also morning glory. We had also a vegetable 
plot — about two square yards — ^peas, radishes, turnips, chanbut ^ — 
lettuce and dhania. When these went to seed we had another one of 
tomatoes. The firuit is stiU green but looking sweet. 

We have only three large shady trees. Or rather had, for one of 
them, a stately gnarled old neem, fell with a tremendous thud the 
other day. It looked so strong and one would have thought it would 
last for ever. Its roots had aU been eaten away by the white ants and it 
was rotten to the core. There was majesty in its every branch even as 
it lay prostrate, but almost immediately it was chopped up for firewood 
and removed. Only a stump now remains. Remember — 

The potent bear whose hug 

Was feared by aU, is now a rug. 

After the fall, Chand and another girl wanted to climb up on to 
the trunk, but the convicts were simply terrified and refused to allow 

1. A small plant of gram. 



them, saying that the evil spirits dwelling in the tree would get into 
their bodies! 

It is really a most interesting psychological study watching these 
people, their superstitions and beliefe. And most interesting of all is the 
effect of these beliefs on their actions and their daily lives. Here one is 
thrown into close enough contact with village women for them to unveil 
their thoughts. It would take years of hving and working in a village for 
its womenfolk to be so friendly and so unsuspicious of a stranger. 

I am in what is called an association barrack — that is we do not 
have separate cells. Each of us has tried to have a corner to herself so 
as to ensure at least a minimum of privacy. It is strange — ^here we are 
all together and yet each one a world to herself, separate and aloof. 
More alone than if one had been in solitary confinement. I even feel 
I am developing the awkwardness that comes of being companionless. 

Alone . . .The word is life endured and known. 

It is the stillness where our spirits walk 

And all but inmost faith is overthrown. 

I haven’t been reading anything special — there isn’t anyone to send 
books. Had I known that I would be here for such a long time I 
might have made some arrangements. I have read a lot of old books — 
classical and otherwise, Balzac, Rousseau and so on — that one is always 
meaning to read but somehow keeps on postponing. Have you, I 
wonder, come across An Anthology of Modern Verse compiled by A. 
Methuen. It is quite an old one — ^first appeared in 1921. But it has 
taken me all these years to discover it. It is one of the richest anthologies 
of its kind that I have ever seen, and Robert Lynd has written a perfectly 
delightful introduction to it. Another lovely book I’ve read here is Van 
Loon’s Acts of Mankind. Later I think I might re-read War and Peace. 
Interesting too, though long and wordy, is Upton Sinclair’s The Dragon’s 
Teeth, a very vivid and realistic portrayal of Europe just before the 
war. An altogether different kind of book which we all enjoyed was 
Verrier Elwin’s detective story about the clouds, A Cloud that’s 
Dragonish. Very fresh and light reading. 

Rita, I hear, has acquired a new dog — a terrier. It’s called ‘Spring 
Breeze’ and came to her by air from Calcutta! 

Write often. Tell me about yourself. How is your arm? The one 
that was worrying you in Dehra. 

Lots and lots of love to you, 




297 ^ — 

Ahmadnagar Fort Prison, 
26th March, 1943 

Indu Darling, 

There is not much substance in a letter from one prison to another, 
unless one takes to analysing and recording states of mind — an alarming 

In a sense I have had a novel experience this time. Previously I 
was kept alone or with one companion. Now we are a round dozen 
and many of them very interesting companions. The brightest of 
companions is apt to paU on one in the inescapable intimacy of prison. 
Still, this is a definite advantage. Sometimes, especially in the evenings, 
some of us emerge out of our shells and talk on all manner of subjects: 
the development of the war situation, international affairs, national 
happenings, politics, religion, science, philosophy, ethics, art, 
economics, linguistics, literature, cooking, gardening, India old & new, 
China, Europe, America, the ancient civilisations, the future & so on 
and so forth — anything to take us out of ounelves and give us the 
feeling of activity — mental if not physical. 

You may be surprised to learn how many languages are represented 
in our group, nearly all of them in a scholarly way. Of classical 
languages: Sanskrit, Pali, Arabic and Persian. Of modern Indian 
languages: Hindi and Urdu, Gujrati & Marathi, BengaH & Oriya,Tamil 
and Telugu, and Sindhi — also a litde Punjabi. Then of course Enghsh, 
and a smattering of French and German. In a sense, it is an ideal 
opportunity to learn some of these languages and some of us are 
pegging away at them. But life is too short for this business, especially 
at our respective ages. For my part Urdu is aU I have taken up so far. 
But I nourish a secret hankering to read Shakuittala in the original 
Sanskrit with Narendra Deva,^ and to learn a little modern Persian 
from the Maulana, an ideal teacher, except that he is too erudite. 

And I read of course — a miscellaneous assortment of books, old 
& new. Just at present one of the books I am entangled in is Lewis 
Carrolls collected works. It had a lovely cover but that, alas, is no 

1 . Narendra Deva; eminent socialist and scholar; participated in the freedom movement, 
associated with Kashi Vidyapith; was also Vice-Chancellor of Lucknow and Benares 
Hindu Universities. 



more. Poor Alice had a new adventure when she travelled to this 
unknown part of the world. She came with a mixed retinue of books, 
clothes, cigarettes and oddments, including bottles of delicious honey 
which Psyche sometimes sends. The honey was really quite separate 
but some wise person in the Bombay Secretariat forced the honey 
bottles into the suitcase. And when the case was opened I saw a ghastly 
sight — the very horror of it fascinated me. There was honey, honey 
everyvA'here, flowing, sticking, oozing out all over the place. Alice was 
swimming in it. Well, having survived the first shock, we began our 
work of salvage. But Alice bears traces of it to this day, and the cover is 
no more, and in spite of all the wiping and drying & sunning, ants 
smell their way to her. I think I shall send this book to you in my next 
lot next month. That is if the first lot has reached you. 

You will be sorry to learn that Yunus is very ill and has grown 
even thinner than he was. It is T.B., so Betty writes. He is at present in 
detention in Abbottabad. I am very worried about him. He is one of 
the most likeable persons I have come across. 

Your loving, 


Naiiii Central Prison, 
6tli April, 1943 

Darling One, 

Chand has been released. Now we are only three of us in our barrack. 
It’s like the old old song ‘Ten Little Nigger Boys’! 

Four little Indian girls sat down to tea 
One was released & then there were three. 

I am looking forward to the books & I do so hope they will come 
soon and all of them. Some of them — a very few — I have already got 
here. Among them: Franklin’s y4nfo6io^rflp/iy, Plato’s Repi(6/ic, Benvenuto 
Cellini’s Autobiography. The autobiographies are in the Jail Library 
which also contains — The Confessions of an English Opium Eater, Memoirs 
of Madame Pompadour, Confessions of Rousseau & of St. Augustine. The 
Jail Librar)^ has some good books — I read John Stuart Mill’s Essay on 



Liberty here and also The Autocrat of the Breakfast Table — ^but usually 
they are extremely difficult to get hold of. All Men Are Brothers is a 
book that I have long wanted to peep into. Hasn’t it been translated 
by Lin Yu-tang? A long time ago Mamu gave me Mathematics for the 
Millions and as far as I remember you did not approve of it then. Have 
you got that too? 

I have been reading quite a lot of French books — the ones 
Mademoiselle Hemmerlin sent me in 1932! 

Often we have visitors in the night. Bartholomew Bat is the one I 
dishke most. In the days when Knights were bold, they used to give 
names to their swords. Following that charming custom, I have given 
names to all the animals and insects, & lots of other things besides, 
which come here. Among our nightly visitors are, Minto & Morley 
Musk-rat (their predecessor Montague was killed by Mehitabel, the 
cat) and Marmaduke, who is the husband of Mehitabel. Marmaduke 
is an errant coward and is most unbeautiful, though he has a marked 
resemblance to Mr Gladstone. He only comes at night. On the other 
hand, Mehitabel is very pretty and is our constant companion as also 
are her kittens Kanhaiya, Moti and Parvati. 

. . . Why can’t I share the Maulana’s treasures with you? If in each 
letter you wrote out a couplet or verse, either in Urdu or Hindi, I 
should soon have a Uttle collection of the most delectable. 

Since Puphi has left, I have had to learn to cook — actually I learnt 
watching her. But now I have to manage on my own. I rather like it, 
though I don’t think I’m interested enough in food to ever make a 
good cook. Besides, raw vegetables are so much more appetising 
than cooked ones. If it weren’t for the trouble to other people I think 
I would have taken to a raw diet ages ago! 

Much much love, 


Ahtnadnagar Fort Prison, 
9th April, 1943 

Darling Indu, 

Today I am arranging to send you a few more books. They are: 

1. A New Anthology of Modern Poetry 



2. Ferdinand Czermin: Europe Going, Going, Gone! 

3. Virginia Woolf: Between the Acts 

4. Lewis Carroll: Goinplete M'brks 

5. Thomas Reveille: The Spoil of Europe 

6. A pocket diary for 1943 

7. Satir Roznamcha or Hindi diary for Sanwat 2000 

I have asked Betty to arrange with a fruiterer in Bombay to send 
you a weekly parcel of fruit — I hope this reaches you in good 

My Glimpses of World History came out in an American edition last 
year. A copy of it managed to reach me here. It is amusing to learn 
that many persons who had previously not cared to read it, thinking 
it a child’s book, are now, in prison, reading it and finding out how 
mistaken they were. Mahmud is so enamoured of it that he wants to 
read its thousand pages again and again. 

As I was writing this letter news came of the death of Maulana’s 
wife. In a sense we had been partly prepared for bad news. Still hardly 
anyone here expected this sudden end. It is a great shock to all of us, 
and you can well imagine what it is for the Maulana — I have come to 
know him very intimately during these months here. I knew well 
how full of learning he was, how wise in counsel. I have found him to 
be also a very brave and gallant gendeman, a finished product of the 
culture that, in these disturbed days, unhappily pertains to few — I am 
greatly exercised. I wish I could do something for him. But what can 
I do? I hardly dare go to him. 

I have been reading Bernard Shaw’s plays again. Twice I have read 
them previously and seen some of them on the stage. And now for 
the third time I am going through the lot. It is surprising how much 
there is in them. What a wise man he is, full of the deepest 
understanding of life, which often he covers with his levity and over- 
smartness. Few writers provoke me to thought so much as he does. I 
am sorry when I think that I am never likely to meet him. He is 
eighty-seven years old now — I once saw him at Cambridge when I 
was an undergraduate there. Not again. ^ 

Your loving, 

1 In fact Ja\v.nh.nrlal Nehru and George Bernard Shaw were to meet in 1949. 


• TWO alone, two together • 


Naini Central Prison, 
12th April, 1943 

Darling Papu, 

Your letter of the 2nd April^ was handed to me just before lock-up. 

As soon as the key turned in the lock, I hastened with pen and 
paper and lantern to write to you. Then I thought that I had better 
prepare dinner first. The eggs were just cooking and I was balancing 
on my haunches over the stove, when a tremendous gust of dust burst 
in upon us and ‘turned me and near inurned’ me. The next five 
minutes were spent in a mad rush retrieving flying paper, sheets, 
dusters, etc, and trying to save the other things from the onslaught of 
dust. For the most important things — ourselves — there was neither 
opportunity nor means: the only thing possible, which I did, was to 
wrap my sari well over my head and to flatten myself against the wall, 
thus hoping that the main gusts would sweep past me. However, the 
dust is cleverer than to be taken in by such a simple ruse. Nora,^ in 
the meantime, was feeling in a gay mood and in between coughing 
and choking was singing mausam salona haifi It is the refrain of a record 
we have here. Whether her singing had the desired effect on the 
Heavens, I don’t know, but at this stage came the welcome drip, drip 
of enormous raindrops and the downpour started in real earnest. I 
emerged from my corner to sniff at the lovely fresh smell that the rain 
alone can draw forth from out of the parched earth. How funny 
everybody looked, eyebrows and eyelashes white with dust! 

Now, after a meal of oenfs h la poussmc,'^ which I do not recommend 
to anyone, I am sitting down to write. Peace reigns again in our barrack. 
As I sit by the dim lantern, the kitten Parvati curled up in a snowy ball 
at my feet, a soft cool breeze is blowing in with incredible caressing 
messages from the lightning and thunder and rain, and the beauty of 
the storm-tossed night outside — the night which my complexion was 
supposed to resemble. Remember the Paris journal: bnme comme une 
unit d’etei'^ 

1. Letter not published. 

2. Purruma (Nora) Banegee; a friend of the Nehrus, active in the national movement. 

3. The weather is fine. 

4. Eggs cooked in dust. 

5. Golden like a summer’s night. 

5 5*1 

two AtOS’l, TWO TOO! f H I Jf • 


/llniwdiiaj^ar Pori Prison, 
16th April, 1943 

Darling Indu, 

At last a IctteH from you. 

Reading your letter again I realise what a powerful effect jail has 
on our mental make-tjps. It tnalrcs us grow up mentally and gives us 
a different, and perhaps a iiuer, perspectis-e oji life and the world. 
Partly because we are thrown on our osvn mental resources much 
more than elsewhere, partly because of new experiences, new 
couipaniotis, so dilTeretii from those we are used to. It is curious that 
jail life, which is a terrible narnawing of the world of experience and 
sensatioti, often gives us deeper experiences and sensations. It depends 
on the individual and his or her capacity to receive and profit by 
these new experiences and thus to gross* in mind. Tor my part, 1 have 
no doubt that I have managed to profit by my visits to jail. The vers* 
lack of things in jail, the absence of normal family and social life, the 
long hours alone, the want of the most ordinary amenities we are so 
used to and take for granted, give a v.ilue and significance to them 
and we enjoy them all the more when we have the cliance. Prison is 
the true home of that dreadful thing ennui, and yet, oddly enough, it 
te.achc.s us to triumph over it. 

1 have few regrets. But there is one that in your childhood and 
early girlhood I saw so little of you. 

Your inside is tough of course, I know that. 1 W'ant that outside of 
yours also to grow rough. 1 am sure that you will succeed in 
strengthening your body. It requires will and intelligence. 

Our garden is shrinking daily and drying up. Still there are a good 
number of flowers still out because of the trouble we take over them. 

I have just been reading Aurobindo Ghose s Essays on the Gita. 
What fine English prose he wmites and his amazing lucidity. He writes 
quite tolerable verse also, with an occasional line of good poetry. His 
background of Greek, Latin A' Sanskrit has been excellent training.^ 

We are just fixing up with Narendra Des-a to read the Kadaiuharr 
with him. This is a big book and I doubt if we shall ever go through it. 
It is a laborious process. Still it is rather fascinating to read this ancient 

1. Refers to letter dated 25 March 1943 (No. 296). 

2. Kadanibari: a novel by Banabhatta, who lived in the court of Harsba (c. 606-647). 

• PRISON walls • 


romance in Sanskrit — probably one of the earliest novel-like books 
in the world. 

It is surprising what a mass of Hterature in Sanskrit we possess and 
how httle we know about it. In spite of enormous destructions and 
loss, and the fact that a large number of manuscripts are buried in 
religious institutions and have not so far been properly traced, there 
are at present about 60,000 manuscripts, big and small, properly 
catalogued! Only a small proportion of these have so far been printed. 
What a lot of work we have to do when we have the chance! 

Everybody here sends you his love — more especially Pantji,^ 
Mahmud, Kxipalani^ and Asaf Ali. 

My love to you, darling one. 
Your loving, 


Naini Central Prison, 
19th April, 1943 

Darling Papu, 

The books have arrived correct and all intact. Some of them had got 
rather wet and almost all of them had some sticky substance aU over 
the covers. And countless ants because of it. 

I also have been re-readmg old G.B.S.^ The smaller plays at the 
end I read for the first time in jail', as also Back to Methuselah (strange to 
think I had overlooked it for so long). I enjoyed it immensely and I 
am afraid made a perfect nuisance of myself to Puphi & Chand by 
insisting on reading out aloud large chunks of it to them. A long time 
ago you took me to see Saint Joan as a treat for my tenth birthday. 
Since then I have seen only two other Shaw plays on the stage: Candida 
and The Doctor’s Dilemma. Both brilhantly acted. 

The fruit also came the day I wrote to you — ^April 12th. I forgot to 
mention it in my P.S. It was a delight to see the Alphonsoes. All afternoon 
I was lying close to the fhiit-basket and the smell was so reminiscent 

1. G.B. Pant, distinguished nationahst leader, later Chief Minister of U.P. and Home 
Minister of India. 

2. J.B. Knpalam, leader of the struggle for freedom. Congress President in 1946. 

3. George Bernard Shaw 

• TWO AI.ONJ, I WO 7 oof I HI R • 

3 56 

of the good things oflifc outside jail. 1 could hardly bear to cut them 
up and oat them. Some of the fruit I .sent to Pupha. 

Have you ever heard ofBegam Samroo? She lived in the eighteenth 
century and a person called Brajcnclninath Baneiji wrote a biography 
of her years ago. Apparently the ]3egam was a wonderful woman; ‘A 
Kashmiri girl who from abject poverty and obscurity rose to the 
command of an European-drilled brigade, the sovereignty of a territory 
ns latge as two English counties, and the honoured position of a shield 
to the Delhi Imperial Family, and died in the fullness of her years in 
the odour of sanctity as the honoured ally of the English rulers and a 
saint ot the Roman Catholic Church.’ This book is said to be the first 
attempt to write her biogniphy on the basis of a .study of all 
the available historical materi.als in print or MS — in, Persian, 
Marathi and French — besides the mass of old state papers in the 
Imperial Records Ofiice, Calcutta. 

The night I wrote my last letter’ to you, I had a most lovely dream. 
1 was walking on a broad path — tlecp deep brown it was and probably 
wet and cool without being at all muddy. I had a feeling that it was 
suspended in the air although there w-as nothing to show it po.sitively. 
And in a perfect circle all around — far away as if there was no obstacle 
to prevent me seeing the whole horizon at die same time — there was 
a chain of mountains. All sorts of mountains: high towering into the 
sky be.sides smaller ones, ragged and smooth, snow-covered and bare. 
And on a single peak in front of me there was a dazzlingly beauriful 
light. It seemed like a spotlight from .above although the sky w^s 
pitch dark, neither sun, nor moon, nor stars. It was awe-inspiring. I 
was looking at it and walking on and on when the road became 
narrow and covered with deep snow like a mountain pass. I woke up 
feeling exhilarated and fresh, .as if I had been to die Mont Blanc or 
the Matterhorn at least. 

In spite of not having any sort of Indian calendar, we have been 
doing very well in the wsiy of finding out when the various high days 
and holidays fall. And we have celebrated nearly all that we could 
reasonably do. On Vasnnta Paitcimmi day', we wore Vasanti saris — on 
Holi we had grand fun too — but now the awful jail colour reflises to 
part with our clothes! On Nauroz, I wore a new sari and was gay all 
on my ownsome! For Chand’s birthd.ay we gave her a party — it wasnt 

1 . Refers to letter d.ited 1 2 April 1943 (No. 300). 

• PRISON walls • 


half as pretentious as it sounds. We had sweet bhatta^ and kachah? and 
one other thing. 

Whenever I am bored or depressed and tired of all the books I 
follow LinYu'tang’s advice and open a dictionary. It is really interesting 
and sometimes quite exciting. I have two here. The Pocket Oxford & 
your Twentieth Century. It’s fun to compare them. How do you 
pronounce ‘What’? I had always left out the ‘h’ & Chand kept it in. I 
felt I must be wrong and looked it up to make sure. The Oxford says 
‘wot’ and the other says ‘hwat’. ‘Wench’ according to the Twentieth 
Century is pronounced ‘wensh’! 

Permission to sleep out has been granted to the ‘A’ class which 
means about three of us and four or five people in the male side. As 
far as I am concerned, this does not make much difference. I was 
already allowed out on medical grounds but I did not take advantage 
of this. How frightful to be out in the very sight of a barrackful of 
people who are locked up! 

I was very sorry to hear about Maulana’s wife. Nothing one can 
say is really adequate on such an occasion. And especially so when 
one does not know the person. She was very beautiful, Mrs Naidu 
always used to tell us. 

Much love, 


Naini Central Prison, 
25th April, 1943 

Darling Papu, 

Puphi is back with a lot of books. So for the moment I have abandoned 
your lot. I am now reading Verrier Elwin’s^ Leaves front a fungle and You 
Can’t Be Too Careful. You must have read Elwin’s book. We could do 
with his Pandu Baba right here — ^he’s the Gond magician, you know. 
The most popular subject for discussion among the convict women is 
still tutka, which means a sort of bewitching, or rather bewitchment, if 

1 . Sweet rice, served in Kashmiri famihes on auspicious occasions 
2 A variety of edible root. 

3. Verrier Elvvin: British anthropologist sympathetic to nationalist aspirations in India 



such a word exists. If one has a pain anywhere it is because someone 
else has given you her own pain or else because she wishes you ill for 
some reason. So naturally how can mere medicine cure it? 

Did Chand tell you that I wanted to adopt the baby Sarala? If I had 
been out, I surely would have done, for the mother was willing enough. 
It was really a darhng baby and after her release the mother wrote to 
say that baby was missing our care so much that she had lost weight 
and begun to cry a lot. Mother-love in India consists mostly of stuffing 
food down their offsprings throat, all at the wrong time too. They 
have no baby-talk or any kind of demonstrative love that the wee one 
can understand or appreciate. I was reading in an American magazine 
that now they have even intelligence tests for tiny ones under six 
months old! Anyone can avail himself of these but they are especially 
meant for babies that have been put up for adoption, so that the foster 
parents may know the child’s personality characteristics such as 
sensitivity, resourcefulness, muscle coordination and whether the baby 
is of normal intelligence. All these things are a long way off from 
India but I do wish we could have at least the ordinary type of nursery, 
where mothers could be taught the most essential things about baby- 
care. It is a shame how quite bright children are suppressed or at least 
not given the incentive necessary for their full development. Wee Sarala 
is a case in point. She was a really inteUigent baby, quick and willing 
to learn and understand. In her home she will soon lose her alertness 
and will grow up into just such a bovine creature as her mother. Maybe 
when the hospital grows bigger and has more funds it will be possible 
to open some such section. 

Whatever difference stone walls and iron bars may make to the 
human soul, let us be thankful that they offer no obstacle to the 
vegetable kingdom, which follows the cycle of the seasons, year in 
and year out, come war or peace. We have a peepul in our yard, a tree 
which, had it depended upon human praise and approbation, would 
have withered away long since. However it ignored our derision and 
went on its lordly way. And now that phagun^ is come again, the few 
remaining shreds of last year’s garment, yellow with age, are being 
shed off and its bare limbs are being clothed in glorious sunset pink. 
It looks as if a deep blush were spreading along the branches which 
gives it rather a coy look. Amazingly beautiful it is. Over the walls we 

1. Spring. 



have glimpses of the tops of some mahua trees — a balm for sore 

Beautiful things attract other beautiful things. Our soHtary peepul 
provides our only opportunity of watching birds, other than the ever- 
present sparrows, babblers, crows, pigeons and parrots which are 
numerous and extremely rowdy. Unfortunately the peepul is in such 
a spot that by the time one hears the call of a bird and rushes round 
one can just see it disappearing into the sky. In this way I failed to 
identify a most peculiar specimen. It happened in the evening. It was 
singing on a warbling, whistling note. Just as I got under the trees, 
the bird gave an extra loud whistle and away he flew. All I saw was a 
bit of beige, a bright tail in two dazzling shades of blue, a long dull 
red curved beak. Can you tell us what it is? 

Mehitabel the cat is getting increasingly vicious and quite adept at 
catching and devouring pigeons and sparrows. She has recently 
produced some more kittens.The latest family to join us is the Cuthbert 
centipedes. Several of its members have been found in our yard. 

Dame Rumour has it that all ‘A’ classers are going to be 
transferred — Pupha and the men to Bareilly. We women will probably 
go to a cooler place. Do you know Atkinson’s verse on rumour? 

Actual evidence I have none 

But my aunt’s charwoman’s sister’s son 

Heard a maid in Downing Street 

Say to a policeman on his beat 

That she had a brother who had a friend 

Who knew when the war was going to end. 

The only really effective armour against mosquitoes are mosquito- 
nets. These we have acquired. Around lock-up time all the mosquitoes 
gather in the far end of the barrack, probably debating their strategy 
for the night.They produce such a variety of sound as to put to shame 
even S.K. Niazi — remember the zoological and ornithological linguist? 

Lots & lots of love, 




Ahmadnagar Fort Prison, 
7th-8th May, 1943 


Two days ago I received your letter dated April 12t]p Since then I 
have sent you two small packets of books, and yesterday I sent yet 
another — the fourth. I have decided to send you small parcels of books 
as these can go by post and thus save time and trouble to everybody. 

Yesterday’s parcel contained: 

1. Voltaire: 77;e Best of All Possible Worlds 

2. ChiangYee: 77;e A4cn of the Burma Road 

3. Peter Abrahams: Dark Testament 

4. Plato: Five Dialogues 

5. Chekhov: Plays and Stories 

6. T7/e Upakhyan-mala 

7. Two Reports & 4 Bulletins of the Commission to Study 
Organization of Peace. 

8. Four copies of the Reader’s Digest — ^last year’s numbers 

You ask me about my arm — think I have already written to you 
about it. I tried various massages, ointments, I gave it long rest from 
any kind of exercises — ^but the pain continued. Then I decided to 
deal with it in a different manner — through regulated exercise. I think 
the carrying of pailfuls of water was especially good for it as this 
stretched the muscles. Anyv^ay it is far better now than it has been at 
any time during the last two years or more. 

I have had a curious experience in connection with this arm. There 
is electric current here and Mahmud was given some simple electric 
treatment here for some pain. It was suggested that I might also indulge 
in this for my arm. Being always agreeable to having new sensations 
& experiences I readily agreed — ^not that this electric business was 
very novel. So a mild current was passed through my arm for a few 
minutes. No obvious results. Next time, a few days later, a stiffer and 
a larger dose was proposed. While this was being given, and the force 
of the current increased, I was asked: Can you bear it? An odd question. 

1 . Refers to letter No. 300. 

• CKISOX V.'Al.LS • 


or at any rate oddly put. 1 can bear a good bit in the way of pain and 
if it is for niy good, I saw’ no reason to object. So I bore it w'itbout a 
whisper. When u w-as all over and my arm was unwrapped, it w’as 
discovered that my skin and some tissues had been burnt up to some 
extent. It was entirely my fault for quietly submitting to this ordeal 
without pointing out that something untoward was happening. Any-way 
it took about three weeks for this burn to heal and I have got a biggish 
mark on my forearm which I am likely to carry' to the end of my 
d.ays. It is as well to have a permanent souvenir of this place. 

A week ago Beatrice Webb’died at her country house where you 
and 1 visited her five years ago. Her age was stated to be eighty-five. I 
thought she was even older. What a magnificent woman she was! 
Bernard Shaw said about her on her eightieth birthday, or thereabouts, 
that he was amazed that such a woman ‘should survive in apparently 
undiminished s’igour after eighty years among fools and savages who 
will rise to nothing but ecstasies of murder’. That compliment or 
observation could well be passed on to G.B.S. himself, for he has 
managed to survive for an even longer period, and is yet fiill of vigour 
and mental alertness. He is eighty-seven now. 

How svell I remember that visit of ours to Sydney & Beatrice 
Webb. Sydney was definitely the weaker of the tsvo and I would have 
thought that he would not survive his wife. (I suppose he is still alive — 
1 am not sure.) The walk across country we had ivith this lady of 
eighty and the light spring)’ step she had! But what was really amazing 
W. 1 S the up-to-dateness and mental alertness she displayed. It was a 
privilege to meet her and I shall long cherish her memory. You have 
a visible token of that visit — the book she gave you. 

In my last letter^ 1 gave you an account of how I spent my day — a 
regular timetable was outlined. Such timetables seldom last and 
anyway this one went to pieces very soon after. 

However, Maulana carries on with his astonishing punctuality. 
Then; is a stor)’ about Kant, the German philosopher, that for twenty 
or thirt)' years he used to go out punctually at five p.m. for his walk 
and all his neighbours and many others corrected their watches and 
clocks as soon as they saw him. So, whenever Maulana is to be seen 
.slowly walking in the direction of the place where we feed, one can 

1. Rc.itnccWcbb (1S58-194.'3);prominent British socinlist.She and her husband Sydney 
Webb wcR' both active in v.irioiis radical causes. 

2. Letter not published 



say definitely that it is thirty seconds to the time fixed for the meal. 

A few days ago I read in a newspaper some extracts from a review 
in Tlie American Current History of my book Glimpses of World Histoty 
which has recendy appeared in the U.S. The review was very fi-iendly 
and eulogistic and, as an author, I felt very puffed up. He said that it 
was a better survey of world history than H.G. Wells’s Outline. 

Here are two verses by Ghalib: 

jLi- jtrn «-Cl ^ 

jk Ai CyU. ^ Crt"* r* 

The same in Hindi: 

FT 3T^fTT^ FT?I^ I TpcJgcT 1^ ^ ^ ^ II ' 

means a crowd — is being alone, solitary ftlT-TT-T>TFTT is 
Judgment Day — presumably because the biggest crowd will be seen 

Oj«>» tijS'li 

(•.^JU") 4fi_ !>. yjC 01 vy h 

The same in Hindi: 

^JTT# ^ FTTcT ^ I 

' 3TTR ft ^ Ipn# ^ ^ t II ^ 

The first couplet teUs us that man is not just a simple individual 
but a crowd of thoughts and ideas. Even when he is by himself, he is 
a kind of meeting or debating society aU inside himselfl The idea is 
well put. 

1. Ghalib: Man is himself 

a tumultuous world of thought: 

A company all around me I feel 
even if I am all alone! 

2. Ghahb" If punishment there needs must be 
for the sins committed, 

Some appreciation, O my Lord, 
for the sins in thought left undone! 



The second is famous & often quoted. If we are to be punished 
for the sins we have committed, at least we should be praised for our 
yearning for the sins we have not conmiitted. Have you any news of 

Your loving, 


Ahmadnagar Fort Prison, 
14th May, 1943 


You mention the peepul tree in your yard. We have only one tree 
here — a neem, but little shoots of the peepul are continually coming 
out at odd places — how irrepressible they are! I have watched the 
unfolding of a new peepul leaf and been charmed and fascinated by 
it. The peepul, I suppose, might well be considered the typical tree of 
India. Of course there is the chenar in all its magnificence, but it is of 
Kashmir only; and the deodar in all its stately glory, but again it is 
confined to the mountains, and the neem, and the lovely areca, and so 
on. But the peepul is the Tree of India — and it is fixed so for ever by 
the Buddha legend.* 

What of the flowers? Obviously the lotus is the Flower of India. 
Equally obviously the mango is the Fruit of India. I am not sure about 
the animals — ^is there any really typical animal? 

You give me a vague description of a new bird you saw and want 
me to name it from here! This faith in my extensive knowledge is 
very touching but it has no justification. 

Begam Samroo — yes, most of us have heard about her though 
very few know much. I have read a magazine article about her and, in 
the course of my wanderings, I have passed Sardhana, near Meerut, 
which used to be her headquarters. There is, I am told (I did not see 
it myself), a fine Catholic Church built by her with a lovely statue of 
the Virgin Mary. 

On receiving your letter I went to Maulana and asked him, for he 
is a treasure-house of all such old stories and happenings. He told me 

1. The reference is to the Buddha attaining Enlightenment while reflecting under a 
peepul tree at Bodh Gaya (528 BC). 

something and gave me a book he happened to have here. This is The 
History of the Reign of Shah Alum by W. Francklin, Captain in the Hon’ble 
East India Company’s service, published in London in 1798. Francklin 
•was the Begam’s contemporary, more or less, and was her guest for a 
fortnight at Sardhana. He was much impressed by her. He says that 
she belonged to an impoverished family of a Moghul nobleman. She 
married Samroo, a German adventurer in command of a body of 
trained troops, including foreign soldiers. (Samroo is an odd name 
for a German — probably it was a new name.) She became a Christian 
after her marriage. Samroo apparently died soon after marriage, in 
1778. He had been given a large jagir round about Sardhana and in 
addition to his own battaHons was given command of a body ofMoghul 

On Samroo’s death, the Begam became possessed of this 
principality and also functioned as the leader of the armed forces. 
She was a good administrator and a good captain of the forces. She 
built a fort and arsenals & foundries for cannon. Sardhana prospered 
& remained peaceful while chaos often ravaged the surrounding areas. 
She was loyal to the Delhi king and on several occasions saved him 
from destruction and collapse in battle by her personal initiative & 
bravery. The king gave her the tide of Zebu-nnisa — the ‘ornament of 
her sex’. 

Later she got into trouble: she married for a second time and 
this resulted in a revolt of her troops. She married one of her 
European officers, again said to be a German adventurer (though 
his name is given as Vaissaux). She was imprisoned by a step-son. 
Her new husband committed suicide. Some months or a year later, 
however, she gained possession of her Jagir again and remained there 
tiU a ripe old age. 

I have exceeded aU bounds in this letter — I fear it is much more 
than 500 words! So my apologies to the censors. 

Your loving, 




Anand Bliawan, 
22nd May, 1943 

Darling Papu, 

You must have read of our release and of the order^ served upon us. 
These last days have been full of indecision, Samant^ advising me to 
go to Khali, I not feeling like it, and so on. Dr Saniant’s point was my 
health. I have caught a bad cold and my temperature has been going 
up to 101°. However it is nothing to worry about . . . 

Our letters to the District Magistrate have gone off, informing 
him that we cannot comply with the terms contained in the order. So 
now it is just a matter of waiting for the police lorry. The police, I 
hear, have already been to Anand Bhawan twice in our absence. 

Both the radio and newspapers are full of eulogies of Moti,^ who, 
poor chap, is reported to have been killed on the bank of the 
Chindwari. I believe he was very brave & liked the army life too, 

Khali must be very pretty just now and full of flowers, but as the 
popular Bombay Talkies song goes: 

unka phoolon sc rislita hi kya, 

jinki kismet hai kaiiton ke beech pali re^ 

Nani is with Mamu in Lahore. I hear she has been having a lot of 
trouble with her eyes. She had an operation which didn’t turn out 
too well. 

Darling, I shall stop now. If we are not arrested I shall continue 

Tons of love, 

1. Indira Gandhi and Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit were released from Naim Prison on 14th 
May, 1943 and an order was served upon them to go to Khali, the estate of Ranjit 
Pandit near Almora, and live there in internment. 

2. Dr Vatsala Samant: a friend of the family who was Medical Superintendent of the 
Kamala Nehru Hospital, Allahabad, 1942-72. 

3. Moti Kathju; a cousin of Jawaharlal, he worked for the Pioneer, Lucknow, before 
joining the,Iiidian Army. He was killed in action in Burma in May 1943. 

4. A rough translation of this song would beiThose hapless individuals whose destiny is 
hurtiired in tlionisAVhat have they to do with flowers? 




Ahmadnagar Fort Prison, 
23 rd May, 1943 


The very day my last letter^ went off to you I saw in the newspapers 
that you and Puphi had been released from Naini and later some 
kind of an order had been served upon you both calling upon you to 
proceed to Khali and live there under the surveillance of the District 
Magistrate. I wondered immediately what the outcome of this would 

So what has happened and where are you now? 

Here are two more Urdu couplets. The first is by Mir.^The second 
by Ghalib. 

f IT Z. V- 

In Hindi: 

4^(11 ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ I 

^ % 3Ti%t II ^ 

^ ^ gij 

(*^U) oUT 4^ j> ^ 

In Hindi: 

^ ^ ^ cil 'Snwi % ^ i 

IcFft ^ ■qt %3TraT II 

1. Refers to letter dated 14 May 1943 (No. 305). 

2. Mir Taqi Mir (1774-1810): Urdu Poet 

3. Mir: All the measures and plans have proven false; 
No medicine did me good; 

See, this disease of the heart. 

At length, put an end to me! 

4. Ghalib: Pain afflicts no more 
when it comes to be a part of hfe; 

So many vicissitudes of fortune I have seen 
That easy they come on me! 



I am immersed at present in a careful reading of the 1200 pages of 
Beatrice & Sydney Webbs Soviet Commiinism. It is an astonishing and 
a wonderful book. 

I am writing today to Amma also. She intended going to Lahore. 
She was to have had an eye operation a month or two ago. I do not 
know the result of it. You had better write to her also. 

Your loving, 


Ahmadnagar Fort Prison, 
28th May, 1943 


The papers say you are in hospital and are suffering from influenza. 
Influenza is usually a trivial affair but not for you and I hate this idea 
of your having to go to hospital again. You have already spent long 
months and years in hospitals and sanatoria and I had hoped that you 
had rid yourself of them for good. Perhaps it is not so surprising after 
nine months of the ‘Female Barrack’ in Naini Jail. 

And now news comes that Puphi has gone back to Naini. I suppose 
you would have been there also for a second time but for the fact that 
you are actually in hospital. 

So again I live in uncertainty about you and what the immediate 
future will bring. 

All my love. 
Your loving, 


Anand Bhaxvan, 
29th May, 1943 

Darling Papu, 

First of all I must reassure you about my health — I hope the newspaper 
headlines about my flu have not worried you. Before we were released. 
It was so hot in jail and I was feeling very low and running a 



temperature. Coming to Anand Bhawan from the Female Ward was 
like suddenly being landed at Mussoorie after a stay near the Equator. 
I caught a cold at once. Then I went to Fyzabad to interview Feroze. 
The heat, the dust, the crowded compartment, the fatigue of the journey 
made my temperature rise alarmingly. I started to cough. 

However by the time I got back home I was feeling Hke nothing 
on earth — as only influenza can make you feel. It is really remarkable 
what difference a hospital does make. I think I stayed there four days — 
Doctor wanted to keep me a little longer, but it is so hot there, I 
decided to come away. 

Puphi was rearrested while I was in hospital. Now I am just waiting 
to be whisked back to good old Naini. 

Hari sends his salaams. Khaliq^ also asked to be remembered to 
you. He brought his daughter here the other day. She has grown up 
into a smart & perky young lady in Rita s salwarsl Poor Lakchamania^ 
is getting older and weaker and there is nothing one can do about it. 
Her granddaughter Champi, attractive young thing, has gotT.B. I have 
arranged milk for her. Old Jessie still comes to see us with offers of 
cooking Madrasi meals. 

Poor old Rafi^ is, I hear, having a very bad time. He is in Bareilly 
with Pupha. 

Motibhai’s death was tragic. So much of his Hfe he had wasted just 
lounging about and when he does at last decide to do something it 
ends like this. 

As soon as I knew we would have to go back to jail, I sent for the 
barber and had all my hair chopped off. Now it is almost as short as a 
boy’s — ^what is called in America the service bob. It is so much cooler 
and easier to manage. Everybody prophesied that I would look ghastly, 
but I decided on comfort and coolness at aU costs of looks. Actually it 
has not turned out at all bad. The barber who came to cut my hair was 
not our usual one but his son, who seems to have led an adventurous 
life. He has been a ship’s barber & was torpedoed some time ago. 
Before that he had a shop in Glasgow. How is your burn? 

Very much love, 

1 . A chauffeur m Anand Bhawan. 

2. Mother of a sweeper in Anand Bhawan. 

3. Rafi Ahmed Kidwai: nationahst Muslim leader from U.P.; active in the struggle for 
freedom; was later Union Minister for Food and Agriculture, 1952-4. 




Anand Bhawan, 
30th/31stMay, i943 

Darling Papu, 

Darling, shall I tell you a secret? I think I’m getting old! Proof? An 
almost complete change of taste. You know how I have always adored 
mangoes. I now find to my horror that I really relish only the 
Alphonso! There is also a growing fondness for food — or do you 
think this is merely the result of not having a decent meal for eight 

Living in jail one forgets how green and beautiful even dusty old 
Allahabad can be. The day we were released, it was quite a shock to 
see the colourful Gulmohars, the abundance of trees, the curve of the 
Jumna. I was so overcome that I shed a few tears through sheer 

I sleep out on the lawn here, in front of Puphi’s bedroom. It was 
such a rehef not to have the major portion of the sky hidden behind 
the roofs of barracks and the high walls. On a dark starry night, have 
you ever seen shadows cast by the light of the stars? It does happen 

31st May 

Do you remember the baby Sarala, about whom both Chand and I 
have written copiously to you? Her mother brought her to see me 
the other day. My worst fears with regard to her have proved true. She 
was no longer the bonny baby who left jail, but had shrunk, in these 
four months, back to her former skinny smallness, instead of getting 
rounder and fatter as all babies should. She didn’t even look inteUigent 
as she used to do. I was really most disappointed. I am arranging for 
the mother to go to school since she is anxious to do so, though I 
think it would be more to the point if she were to learn to look after 
her children. 

As I write I can see through the open door three fat owls sitting all 
in a row on the neem outside. 

Lots & lots of love, 




Ahmadnagar Fort Prison, 
1st June, 1943 

Darling One, 

In spite of all my tall talk and long practice in keeping cool and 
collected in untoward circumstances, I have felt worried and distressed 
about your health. It is aggravating not to be able to get frequent and 
rapid news of you — to have to wait for a fortnight or so for stale 

I am sending a few more books to you — as follows; 

1. Adams: Tlie Epic of America 

2. Zimmern: T7/e Greek Commonwealth 

3. Sinclair Lewis: Main Street 

4. Modern Plays (Everyman’s Library) 

5. Sculpture Inspired by Kalidasa 

During this month of May that is just over I thought often of the 
Kulu Valley where you and I went a year ago. Somehow the Himalayas 
have always a soothing effect on me — even the thought of them helps. 
That is not merely because I love mountains and glaciers and the 
deodar and so many other things that are there, but also because of 
their calm imperturbability which smiles at my own fitful nature. They 
represent to me the old strength and the spirit of India, rather remote 
but ever-present, enduring. 

I have something to do with illness here — not my own, for I 
flourish, but other people’s — a fair part of my time is being spent in 
looking after them, though I am not a good nurse. 

Love to you, my dear. 
Your loving, 




20, Carmichael Road, 
18th June, 1943 

Darling Papu, 

I left Allahabad on Tuesday. 

Puphi has just shown me your letter to her. Darhng, I think you 
people are being quite insulting about my health! I have been ill in 
the past but I am determined not to be iU any more — minor troubles 
such as flu & appendicitis are naturally not counted in this. I enclose 
a typewritten report by Samant. 

It is only on arrival in Bombay that 1 finally got away firom the 
shadow of Naini. Smart-clothed people, radios and telephones and 
cars — how can one associate anything here with Naini? But in the 
midst of it I think of those who ate stfll there and I can’t really enjoy 
anything. If this is the state of affairs so soon after being released, in a 
couple of weeks more, being out will become unbearable. As you 
have perhaps noticed, my mind works m its own peculiar way, so I 
rarely find anyone who will sympathise or understand. 

I saw Feroze last Sunday. He was well but his foot is stfll giving 
him trouble. 

Last August Tendulkar* took some snaps of Puphi and me in salwar. 
I believe they came out quite well. This time he came again and took 
some more snaps. He is going to send me copies of them all. I should 
like to send them to you — are you allowed to have photographs? 
Have you seen his book — 30 Months in Russia? 

Lots of love, darling. 
Your loving, 

1. DG Tendulkar; political worker and author, well-known for his monumental 
biography of Mahatma Gandhi. 




Ahmadmgar Fort Prison, 
26th June, 1943 


Your reaction to Bombay after Naini is interesting but natural. I have 
seldom felt life’s contrasts so much as when I went to London (with 
you) in November 1935. I had spent nearly four years in prison and 
the two or three months in Badenweiler had been quiet and anxious 
ones. The change to a great and wealthy city, with all its pomp and 
luxury, its strength and ceaseless activity, its social and intellectual Hfe, 
had a remarkable effect upon me. I felt as if I was in a dream, or was 
1 waking from a dream? Which was real and which was unreal? 

You write that your mind works in a peculiar way and that you 
rarely find anyone who will sympathise or understand you. Almost 
every person who thinks, imagines that he or she is a pecuHar person, 
apart from the rest. And so, of course, every individual is. Then there 
is the feeling of lack of sympathy and understanding. True enough, 
again, for we are all, deep down, strangers to each other and even to 
ourselves. But the doors and windows of sympathy and understanding 
do not open out to us of themselves: they await our initiative. The 
more we give to others, the more do others give to us. Like most 
things in life, they come to us when we are not seeking them 
dehberately but thinking of something else. 

I suggested to you that you might write to Krishna; whether your 
letter will reach him or not I do not know. There is a book I have long 
wanted to get and have so far faUed.You might ask him to send it. It is 
J.D. Bernal’s^ The Social Function of Science. 

Here is a rubai (quatrain) by Hali.^ There is an English word in 
it — ‘reformer’. Such words in Urdu always are difficult to make out 
as one does not expect them. 


1 . J.D. Bernal; British physicist. 

2 Altaf Hussain Hah of Panipat (1834— 1914)' a nationahst poet associated with Aligarh 
Mushm University. 



In Hindi: fT^-WlI 

sfl^ ^ t ^ fiqnfc ^ ^ 

^ ^ ^ ^ClHI ^ OI4 

^ ^ I ’ 

Love from your loving, 

I have just received a letter from Puphi (Nan) in which she teUs me 
that Ranjit has had a bad heart-attack and has been transferred to 
Lucknow for treatment. 


1st Jtily, 1943 

Darling Papu, 

Psyche & I came here yesterday. I have always liked the journey from 
Bombay to Poona, but it is especially delightful in the monsoon. Silvery 
waterfalls ghminering in the dark foliage, or against the inky rocks. 
After the sticky heat of Bombay, Poona is very pleasantly cool. We are 
staying with Nurie.^ We shall probably leave for Panchgani on Tuesday 

I am sending you today a basket of fruit. 

Psyche and Nurie send their love. Nurie wants to know if you 
dream of Chand Bibi!^ 

Lots of love. 
Your loving, 

1. Hali; O ye reformer, clean the garment 
So long as the stain is there; 

Clean it as ye may; 

Pray, do not rub it so 
That It wears away! 

2 Nargis Captain, granddaughter of Dadabhai Naoroji; a friend of the Nehrus. 

3. Chand Bibi: the pet cat of Jawaharlal Nehru in Ahmadnagar Fort. She was named 
after a famous queen of medieval India. 


3 74 



3rd July, 1943 

Darling Papu, 

Madan Bhai has been in detention since December. He had a terrible 
shock. His father, rather a grand old man, carrying his years remarkably 
well, was killed by dacoits when they came to plunder the house. 
Part of the house was destroyed and many goods stolen. Madan Bhai 
was arrested just as he had heard the awful news and was preparing 
to go to Hardoi. 

In an old article I found the other day a paragraph which I thought 
rather appropriate to the remarks you make about one’s reaction to 
the outside world after months of seclusion in prison. 

To go away, the French say shrewdly, is to die a little. But why 
has nobody ever made the parallel observation: ‘To return is to 
know what it is to be a ghost’? For when you first come home 
you are always something of a ghost. They were sorry you went 
away, and they welcome you back with affection: but in the 
meanwhile they have adjusted their lives a little to your absence. 
They ask ‘Where did you go? What was it like?’ But you cannot 
teU them. For you cannot make them understand the essential 
point, which is that when you went away you took the centre 
of the universe with you, so that the whole thing went on 
revolving, just as usual, round your own head. How could they, 
indeed, be expected to understand this, when they know quite 
well that all the time the centre of everytliing stayed at home 
with them? It is a day or two, as a rule, before your universe and 
theirs merge and become concentric, and when that happens 
you know that you are really home! 

We lead a very quiet life here. I get up late, then potter about in 
the garden, write innumerable letters and sometimes listen in to the 
radio. Looking at the packets of seeds I thought of a poem we read in 
class in Badminton School. It was called ‘The Seed Shop’.^ I cannot 
recollect who wrote it or what the words were beyond the last three 
lines, which run: 

1. ‘The Seed Shop’ by Muriel Stuart. 



Sealed in their shells, a million roses leap; 

Here 1 can blow a garden with my breath, 

And in my hand a forest lies asleep. 

Nurie has a Zanzibar parrot, Pepite by name. She is a soft soft grey 
with a brilliant red tail — such a lovely combination. Pepite fancies 
herself as a singer and she & Psyche have duets every now and then. 
Tons of love to you and mmaskars to everyone else. 

Your loving, 


Ahmadmgar Fort Prison, 
iOth July, 1943 

Darling Indu, 

I liked your pictures. In last year’s snap you look about fifteen. You 
look a little older this year and the chin and jaws are firmer. Perhaps 
this means growth and development, both bodily and mental. But 
pictures depend so much on clothes and accidental circumstances. 
They capture a particular mood and fix it. Puphi (Nan) wrote to me 
that the ‘service bob’ suited you very well and you looked very boyish 
in It. 

I should like to have your other snapshot which you mention. 
Also, if you can manage it, Mummie’s pictures taken at Panchgani. - 

I got Mridu’s' long message which you conveyed to me and I was 
glad to have news of her. She is a very brave girl, one of the most 
courageous persons I know. 

Have vegetables been grown in any quantity in Anand Bhawan? 
Eighteen months ago or more I impressed Ladli Bhai with this and 
suggested that there should be widespread sowing of vegetable seeds. 
He was not keen and said we would not require all this. Of course 
not, but then there were our servants, our friends, our neighbours 
and indeed so many other people who would need them. I do not 
think he quite appreciated my argument; stiU he promised to make a 

1 . Mndul.i Sarabhai, member of the Sarabhai family of Ahmedabad, who was active in 
the freedom struggle. 



One of our occupations just at present is to watch the new 
generation of birds come out of their nests.The other day we discovered 
a bulbul’s nest right in the heart of a creeper, quite low down and 
accessible. It was a lovely piece of weaving, cunningly resting on and 
partly hung fix)m the thin strands of the creeper. Two baby bulbuls 
peeped out of it and the nest seemed much too small for them. 
Between the bulbul parents and the inainas nearby there was 
continuous war, but fortunately no damage was done. 

The first two days or so, when the nestlings come out of their 
nests, are a time of trial for them and dieir parents. The solitary neein 
tree we have got in a corner of our yard contains a colony of kites, 
and they swoop down on the fledglings and sometimes succeed in 
carrying them away, but not if the parents are anywhere about. It is 
extraordinary how the small maim attacks a kite fiercely and pursues 
it, if the kite ventures to come near its young. I do not know how 
many of the fledglings have been carried off by the kites. Yesterday 
we actually saw one such tragedy — ^it was a maim babe. 

The bulbul in India seems to be a much more prosaic bird than its 
cousins in Europe or in Iran — ^the nightingales, rossignoh, Nachti^alls, 
etc. In Iran it is called the hazar-dastan. It does not seem to indulge in 
much singing here. 

The quotation you have given from an old article^ is singularly 
true and appropriate — much more so for those who go to prison 
than the writer probably imagined. 

What a lovely idea is contained in the three fines of ‘The Seed 
Shop’ poem!^ 

I have just been reading a review of a new Chinese book translated 
by Arthur Waley — or rather the book is an old one but the translation 
is new. It is a novel of wliich the central character is an old friend, 
Hiuen-tsang. It is called: Monkey by Wu Ch’eng-en, tran.slated by 
Arthur Waley. I do not suppose you can easily get it. But note it down 
and get it when you can. 

Yes, tell Nurie that I often think of Chand Bibi. Inevitably so. 

This letter is long enough already. So I shall give you only a single 
couplet of Ghalib: 

1. See letter dated 3 July 1943 (No. 315). 

2. See letter dated 3 July 1943 (No. 315). 



<t- aT*Jj 

(v-Jli) U^vlSj ^ 

In Hindi: 

ft ^ I Tipi ^ ^ 

TtS57 = di^; m = ^ 

Your loving, 

Oonm Hall, 
14th July, 1943 

Darling Papu, 

Today it’s just a week since our arrival in Panchgani, and the whole 
time it has rained almost non-stop. Unfortunately my raincoat — it is 
an old one belonging to Chand — is far from waterproof. I have a 
cape in Allahabad but it has no hood and I do hate umbrellas, especially 
out on a walk. I have borrowed a pair of ancient Wellingtons from 
Mrs Vakil. 

I am vastly intrigued by a little bird. It appears to be the only bird 
in Panchgani apart from the babblers. It goes ‘Ferdi’, ‘Ferdi’ — ‘tweet- 
tweet’, rather like an insolent schoolboy. I haven’t managed to get a 
glimpse of it yet. 

About the snapshots. Mummie’s is in Allahabad. I shall send it to 
you as soon as I get back. 

All sorts of seedlings were sown in our garden. And whilst we 
were in jail, I hear that some cauliflowers & cucumbers and other 

1. Ghalib'The steed of life 
Spirited does it go. 

Where does it stop, who can know? 
Ncitlicr our feet in the stirrups are 
Not the reins do we hold' 



vegetables did come up. But I don’t think anything has been sown 
this season. The mali says that the porcupines come and eat up 
everything before it is time for them to be picked. I do not know how 
true this is. One or two porcupines were certainly killed by the 
chowkidar after my release. 

Lots of love to you — namaskars to the others. 



Ahtnadnagar Fort Prison, 
17th July, 1943 

Darling Indu, 

I have received the cigarette case and the six boxes of cigarettes. Also 
the books you sent me. 

I have had no trouble with my feet, as far as I can remember, for 
over twenty years in spite of chappals and the Hke. But I do think 
chappals are not good for the feet except for home wear. It is absurd to 
go for a long walk in them, and in a crowd they are a nuisance and 
sometimes give a great deal of trouble. I think my immunity from 
foot trouble has largely been due to my old habit of running which 
has kept the foot muscles strong and the arch of the foot firm in spite 
of chappals. For the last four or five years I have been wearing Peshawari 
chappals with a rubber heel added. This gives nearly an inch of heel. I 
find now that I feel uncomfortable in ordinary heeUess chappals. My 
balance is upset a little and there is no proper grip. You had better 
wear well-fitting shoes with inside supports when necessary. 

Many weeks ago I asked Betty to write to Walsh, my publisher in 
America, and tell him to continue my subscriptions to various 
American periodicals. I suggest that you might also write to Walsh 
and give him the list of periodicals and teU him that I would be grateful 
if he could arrange to have them sent regularly, paying for them out 
of my royalty account with him. Here is the fist: Life, Time, Nation, 
New Republic, Reader’s Digest, Fortune (for Feroze), Asia,Anterasia, Pacific 
Affairs (Quarterly), Foreign Affairs (Quarterly). 

The Times Book Club of London continues to send me some 
periodicals — New Statesman, etc — although I have not paid them 
anything for years. They have been very decent about it, possibly 
because I am one of their earliest members and subscribers. When 



you write to Krishna next you might ask him to settle my account 
with the T.B.C. out of any royalty monies he may hold on my behalf. 

As soon as you teU me of the address where they are to be sent to, 
I shall send you a few books. Among these will be Sylvain Levi s* Le 
TheAtre Indiati which, after a lot of searching and hunting. Psyche 
unearthed for me from the library of the Bombay branch of the Royal 
Asiaric Society. Please give this book to her. But before you do so, you 
might glance through it yourself. 

Do you remember the visit we paid in Paris to Madame Sylvain 
Levi in 1938? Her husband had died a few months earlier and she 
was inconsolable." 

This is from Amir:^ 

% 371 ^ ^ 3tH41 

TTt UW = what is happening = ^ WRRtrf PT ^ Ijf?! 7^ I. 

Your loving, 


Oomra Hall, 
17th July, 1943 

Darling Papu, 

Soon after I had posted your letter. Psyche and I nearly had a fit! With 

1. Sylvain Levi (1863—1935). French orient.ilist. 

2 Jawaharlal Nehru visited Paris both in 1935 and 1938. Since Sylvain Levi, the French 
orientalist, died in 1935, the reference to a visit to Madame Sylvain Levi in 1938 is 
probably a memory lapse. The visit may actually have taken place m 1935. 

3. Amir Kliusru (1255—1325). a poet of medieval India. 

4 Amir What goes on with us today. 

Tomorrow tales of it 
They’ll make! 



the post came a telegram from Feroze from Victoria Terminus saying 
that he was arriving in Panchgani the same evening! He is here now. 
Apparently somebody paid his fine, so with the remission on his 
year’s sentence, he was released on the 10th. 

I am missing you here more than these last months — ^for I know 
you would love it here. To walk on the rain-swept streets and breathe 
the clear fresh, completely dustless air. To look down on to the lovely 
soft browns and greens of the fields and the shiny silver of the rivers 
in the valleys, and the distant mountain ranges, blue as a painting by 

Cleaning out Mr Bahadurji’s^ room for Feroze, we found a book 
of common Indian birds, brought out by the Society of Natural History. 
Looking at the pictures, I was just wondering whether ‘Ferdi’, the 
bird, was a grey tit or nuthatch, for I had had a glimpse of its black 
head and greyish body — when he called out again and we rushed out 
for another glimpse. We saw a bright red patch under the tail. So 
everybody says it must be the red-vented bulbul. Also in the book I 
was able to identify the lovely brown and blue creature Nora and I 
saw in Naini — it is the white-breasted kingfisher. 

Very much love. 
Your loving, 


Ahmadnagar Fort Prison, 
24th July, 1943 

Darling Indu, 

I was not terribly surprised when I read m your letter that Feroze 
had arrived in Panchgani; indeed the surprise came earlier in another 
way. It so happened that I learnt of Feroze’s release from a letter 
Narendra Deva received from his son in Fyzabad. I expected him to 
roll up suddenly at Panchgani — ^and so he did. It is just like him. 

I hope he is well and his foot has recovered. I must now give effect 
to a resolution I made some months ago. Will you give Feroze, on my 
behalf, a Schick electric shaver — mind it is a Schick. The other ones 

1. Nikolai Roerich: Russian artist. 

2. D.N. Bahadugi; a friend of the Nehru fanuly. 



are not, I think, so good. Draw the money for it from my account at 
Bachhraj’s. You can find out from Betty where this shaver can be 
obtained in Bombay. I have now been using it daily for just over six 
months and I am a complete convert to it. It is undoubtedly an 
improvement on old-style methods. 

I am giving you below three couplets of Ghalib. They are sad and 
written in utter disillusion, written after the tragic happenings of 1857 
and 1858. Ghalib’s world had come to an end, the shadowy Delhi 
court was no more, his friends were dead or in great distress. There 
was hardly any centre or place for the culture he represented. This 
feeling must have been widespread among the relics of the old world 
in India then. The shock had been terrible and had brought ruin to 
everything he valued. 

^ *1 J>r ^ Jr 

^ tjy jj* |»A 

J* Ai Jjf uUV jjl J* 4> (Jj^ 

jb jL-j *j Jjf jUj / 

(v^^) ^ jj jj' 

In Hindi: 

^ ^ ^ ^ ^ it 

FT ^ it sfk FT 'FIT Ft^ H it 

t F art itFT TIT fifi Fli^ 

^ FI TITF ^ it, aftr FTIF ^ q it 

F 41*ik, it Fti ^ it ilHiwK 
ait arm: F it fftfi ^ h it ’ 

F|T = FcRt FI Fp = a person with whom one converses; FT FF = 
one living in the same shelter; FTRI = guardian; itHlWK = one who 
nurses an ill person; ileus^i = mourner. 

With love to you and Feroze, 
Your loving, 

— — Papu 

1 Ghalib. I long to live where I’m all alone; 

With none to speak to 

And none to share my thoughts! 

A dwelling without doors and walls it be 
With no neighbour and no guard, 

None to tend me if sick I he 
And none to mourn if there I die! 



Ooima Hall, 
26th July, 1943 

Darling Papu, 

Today Psyche has gone to Bombay for four or five days. 

Being alone has its advantages. After seeing Psyche offi J climbed up 
a nearby hillock, Avhere Psyche & I have been a dozen times, and 
discovered two lovely wild flow^ers. One plant of the butterfly orchid 
and dozens of tiny marsh gentians — at least that is what I drink they are. 
The marsh gentians are such a prett}^ shade of blue, very pure and cold. 
Just shows how litde we usually observe of the world around us . . . 

While in Bombay I acquired a book called Eat and Grow Beautifiih 
The theory being that beauty is entirely dependent on good liealth; 
every cell and every organ in perfect condition. And perfect health is 
only possible if we eat the Tight’ food, the right food being lots of 
vegetable and fhiit, mosdy raw. The author is probably a disciple of 
Bircher-Benner,^ some of whose books you bought at the Vega 
restaurant for Tandonji.^ The book doesn’t have much new 
information — -just what one has always known: calcium for good teeth 
and nails, iodine for hair. Vitamin A for eyes, and so on. But it is useful 
in that it gives lists of the foods that are rich in these nece.ssary minerals 
and vitamins. Great stress is laid on drinking the juices of raw 
vegetables, such as spinach and carrots. Unfortunately the book is not 
very readable, being full of repetitions, numerous examples of various 
film stars and many pompous statements. I don’t know what you can 
do in the food line, where you are. But for Dr Mahmud’s benefit I am 
giving the list for eye-health: sea-foods, Scotch oats, cod-liver oil, 
watercress, beets, garlic, cabbage, spinach and egg-yolk. These things 
are supposed to contain a mineral called ‘fluorine’. Apart from this 
mineral. Vitamin A is needed. The best foods for this are: liver, fresh 
butter, fresh cream, fresh milk, fresh cheese, mangoes. This book 
wouldn’t do for Tandonji or Bircher-Benner, as they don’t believe in 
milk or milk-products. 

Much love, 

1 . Bircher-Bennei-; Swiss dietician, inv'cntor of tlic bre.akfast food muesli. 

2. Purushottani DasTandon: prominent Congress leader and colleague ofjawaliarla! 





Ahmadtiagar Fort Prison, 
7th August, i943 

Indu darling, 

I have communicated your list of foods containing ferrocene and 
Vitamin A to Mahmud and to others interested therein. There is a 
saying that in youth one thinks of love, in middle age of food, and 
later of medicine. I do not know what stage I am in but it is certainly 
not of medicine. Most of my colleagues here are, however, 
unfortunately full of medicine and even food takes a medical aspect. 
So this business of vitamins and proteins and carbohydrates, etc., is of 
interest to them. 

I do not know when I shall start spinning or how long I shall keep 
it up. But you might send me some good punts. Bombay is the only 
place you are likely to get them easily. 

In a day or two we shall complete one full year here. What have I 
done during this twelvemonth? I have read much and some at least of 
the books have been worthwhile and added to my knowledge and 
insight. But am I any the wiser for all this browsing and pursuing the 
printed word? I do not know. I have pottered about a good deal 
round garden beds, and dug with vigour, and played with the soft 
fresh earth, and watched the seedhngs peep out from its surface and 
look with yearning towards the sun, and grow healthy and strong, 
and then flower and die. That at least has helped me tremendously to 
keep physically fit and mentally occupied and turned my mind from 
happenings that worry and distress. 

Anyway I am a year older, as are all of us. The sense of the work to 
do, so little done, and ever less and less time to do it, oppresses. 

Your loving, 


Ahmadtiagar Fort Prison, 
21st August, 1943 


If Nani is in Benares and likely to stay there for a while you could go 



and meet her there. You might also induce her to spend some time 
with you in Allahabad. In view of her weak health and eye trouble I 
think it would be desirable for you to see her as early as you 
conveniently can. This would please her and cheer her up . . . 

In the early days, that is before and after the Mughals came to 
power in India, there was no Urdu language used as a literary vehicle. 
Gradually this Urdu developed as a camp and bazaar language, with 
its basic background of Hindi and with Persian and Arabic words 
thrown in. In those early days people connected with the court used 
to write poetry in Persian — the court language — or sometimes also 
in Hindi. This Hindi was what might be called pure Hindi. Thus 
Amir Khusrau. A later famous example was Rahim, a well-known 
Hindi poet of Akbar’s day — Rahim or rather Abdul Rahim Khan-e- 
Khanan^ was the son of old Bairam Khan who had been Akbar’s 
guardian and whom Akbar pushed out as soon as he was old enough 
to do so. His son Abdul Rahim was a remarkable person. He was one 
of the biggest grandees of Akbar’s court (Khan-e-Khanan was the 
liighest title), he was a successful general, and a scholar in various 
languages — Persian, Arabic, Sanskrit & Hindi. He was very rich and 
recklessly generous. In fact he is best known today by these stories of 
amazing and sometimes ridiculous generosity. Having developed this 
reputation he was given to showing off far too much. After Akbar’s 
death he got into trouble with Jehangir and was interned. Here is a 
doha by Rahim. 

fsi'id ^ ^ I'H I 

Tit 4 TiTiaq II 2 

Rahim was a contemporary of Tulsi Das, whom he must have 

The beginnings of literary Urdu took place in the early years of 
the eighteenth century when the great Mughal empire was fading 

1. Abdul Rahim Khan-e-Khanan (1556—1626): a poet, scholar and noble at the court of 
die Emperor Akbar. 

2. Rahim' Honour once lost is never gained. 

Howsoever one may tiy^ 

Milk turned sour, O Rahman, butter does not make 
however much you may chum! 



away. Urdu, having become a spoken melange, was used by some bright 
person for some clever couplets — form and imagery Persian, language 
more Hindi than later. This caught on. It — the language — ^was called 
Rekhta. To begin with this was not considered serious poetry — that 
was in Persian. But this vogue grew — and curiously enough as it grew 
it became more Persianised in language and substance. There was no 
prose in Urdu then (nasra = prose) but only nazm — ^poetry. Prose 
came slowly in the early nineteenth century. 

The early Urdu nazm is full of Hindi words and Hindi and even 
(Jehati endings. These drop out later. Here is a simple couplet of an 
early Urdu poet — ^Mazhar — ^Mirza Jan-e-Janan:^ 

iUjS' LJ" LT ^ tj *i 

^ 3:? ^ ^ ^ ^ 

3FR gldl ■dHd SjHdl, 33W, dl'jdH 3N1TT ^ 

= garden; dl'.idH = gardener. 

Here is a clever couplet (of later days by a poet whose name I do 
not remember) with sarcasm in it: 

OUji *S ' yy Af 

VU' ^ yA-J 

In Hindi: 

^ %% ^ I, ^ ggig 

The form of words is somewhat archaic, is when 

animal sacrifices take place. 

Your loving, 

1. MazharJan-e-Janan (1699— 1781)‘ a medieval poet 

2. MazharJan-e-JanatirThis desire of ours, alas, remained unfulfilled 
What a life it would’ve been 

If ours were the gardener, 

ours the garden, and ours the rose' 

3. Funny are the ways of this world; 

Look, he who kills on the Festive Day, 

He gets the reward too! 




Ahmadnagar Fort Prison, 
28th August, 1943 

Darling Indu, 

Betty sent me a rakhi for Raksha Baudhan and a sumptuous book — 
The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations. This book is a delightful 

In my last letter sent to Amma (to Lahore) I asked her to send me 
some supari {bhuni supari with elaichi) as she has sometimes sent me 
previously. Having written to her, I regretted it, for this meant giving 
her trouble. With her weak health and poor eyesight, preparing this 
might well become a burden to her. It would be better if she asked 
Bappi or someone else to prepare it. 

When you go to Allahabad do not forget to send me one or more 
good snapshots of Mummie and the one of yourself you mentioned 
in a letter. 

News of starvation and death in Bengal and Orissa is so harrowing 
that one feels sick at heart . . .^ I want you to know that you can draw 
upon my account to any extent you like (subject only to the extent of 
the account) for any eSective help that you can envisage. It is the fate 
of the children and the young boys and girls that upsets me. 

Your lovmg, 


Anaud Bhaum, 
29th August, 1943 

Darling Papu, 

This is just a hasty scrawl to send my love. 

Ladhbhai is complaining about Datadin.“ Datadin is very careless. 
Ladlibhai says it is entirely due to negligence that we have no vegetables 
in the garden. Ladlibhai gave the seeds to Datadin and even saw that 

1 Deleted by censors. 

2. Gardener at Anand Bhawan. 



they were planted. And yet nothing has come up although Ladlibhai’s 
garden & the hospital garden are flourishing. 

We are very busy meeting people. I am just in the mood to shriek 
at everybody for their complacency. 

Much love, 


Ahmadmgar Fort Prison, 
4th September, 1943 

Darhng Indu, 

So now you must be in Allahabad, or perhaps in Benares with Amma. 
Give my love to her and tell her that I have written to her twice 
recently, on July 20th and August 11th. Yet she complains of not having 
received any reply from me to her letter. These Hindi letters evidently 
take longer to reach their destinations. 

The books you sent have reached me — all those mentioned in 
your letter, plus the China Handbook. It is a good and attractive selection. 
Mahmud is excited about the books on improving eyesight. 

I read with great interest your musings on philosophy’ It is perhaps 
early for you to philosophise, and yet it is inevitable when the harsh 
facts of existence thrust themselves upon us. 1 have dipped into all 
manner of books on philosophy and science, from the Upanishads 
and Plato and Indian & Greek philosophy to many of the modern 
expositions and enquiries. It is a fascinating subject opening out 
innumerable avenues of thought, and yet it seems to lead nowhere. 
At any rate I do not think I am much wiser. But my tendency is to 
turn away from metaphysical speculations. But no thoughtful person, 
however scientific he claims to be, can entirely turn away from some 
aspect of metaphysics, or let us call it the, for the present, unknown, if 
not unknowable. One simply must seek and enquire and delve deep — 
the Faustian attitude — whatever the consequences. (I am reading Faust 
again.) Recently I read Nietzsche. I remember reading him rather 
carelessly when I vras in Cambridge. I dislike his fundamental thesis, 
but there is much that is attractive in what he says, or perhaps it is the 
manner of saying it that fixes the attention. 

1. Letter not published. 



We come back after aU to a certain pragmatic attitude. I think you 
are perfectly right in saying that our main trouble is a lack of organic 
connections with nature or life. We have gone off at a tangent from 
the circle of life, uprooted ourselves and thus lost the sense of fullness 
and coordination with nature. A peasant, at his very low level of living 
on the soil and for the soil, has that sense of organic connection. 
Hence, I suppose, his extraordinary tenacity and perseverance. But 
his level of existence is terribly low, and most of us had rather be 
uprooted than exist at that level. To live at a high level and yet to have 
that organic connection with life — that I suppose is the problem 
humanity is trying to solve now in its own crude, cruel and wasteful 

Why does one do anything? Hardly because of reasoned thinking, 
though this may be behind the immediate urge to some extent. It is 
this urge, this impulse, overmastering and uncontrollable, that drives 
one on. Our moods depend even less on reason and the smallest 
things affect them, exalting them or depressing them. Often one forgets 
or hardly remembers the cause for this exaltation or depression, yet 
the mood prevails. I have felt sometimes extraordinarily exhilarated 
by the sight of a sunset sky, or the deep blue patch between the 
monsoon clouds, or even a flower which I had missed and have 
suddenly seen. For a moment I have felt at one with nature. 

Why does one act? Impossible to answer unless one goes down 
deep into the depths of the unconscious self of man, a journey which 
is beyond our capacity. We may at best just glimpse into those depths 
and return mystified. Have you seen those lovely lines by Yeats on an 
Irish airman? 

Nor law, nor duty bade me fight. 

Not public men, nor cheering crowds, 

A lonely impulse of delight 
Drove to this tumult in the clouds. 

I balanced aU, brought all to mind. 

The years to come seemed waste of breath, 

A waste of breath the years behind 
In balance with this life, this death. 

I have been reading Virginia Woolf {To the Lighthouse). The more I 
read her the more I like her. There is a magic about her waiting, 
something ethereal, hmpid like running water, and deep like a clear 



mountain lake. What is her book about? So very htde that you can tell 
anyone; and yet so much that it fills your mind, covers it with a gossamer 
web, out of which you peer at the past, at yourself, at others. Did you 
ever meet her? 

Your loving, 


Atiand Bhawan, 
4th September, 1943 

Darling Papu, 

Feroze and I went to Benares the day before yesterday. Nani is there 
with three children: Ashok, Chitra and one of the twins, Om.^ We 
spent the whole afternoon with her. She has been getting a temperature 
and her eyes are getting weaker. The two elder children go to school. 
Om is about fourteen months old. A couple of days ago he swallowed 
a pice and it has not come out yet! On top of that he has pneumonia. 
So with all these worries, Nani said it would not be possible for her 
to get away from Benares. 

We met Malaviyaji in Benares. It was pathetic to see him, so 
weak he has grown. For the first few minutes Malaviyaji’s voice was 
all right, then it dropped to a whisper and finally dwindled away. 
Towards the end of our talk we could hardly understand what he 
was saying. I felt it was cruel to sit there and make him talk but he 
would not let us go. Every time I made a move, he would say ‘baitho 
baitho jaldi kya hai.’^ Fie was distressed about Bengal and a great 
many other things as well. Malaviyaji asked after you and sent his 
love and blessings. He was perfectly sweet to us. After we had finally 
said goodbye and were getting into the car, he sent for Feroze and 
had another talk with him. 

Frances Gunther’s present has reached me at last — three days ago. 
It is a silver flat cake spoon, with which you dole out slices of cake if 

1 Children of Chand Bahadur and Rup Koul. 
2. Pray be seated, why are you m a hurry to go 


• TWO alone, two together • 

the company is too polite for you to touch them with your fingers. It’s 
rather a nice one. 

Lots of love, 
Your loving, 


[Amnd Blmimt, 
7th /9th September, i943 

DarHng Papu, 

I am sorry I quite forgot to enclose the snapshots of Mummie in my 
last letter, although I had them out and ready to send. Here are two. I 
am not sending mine as the enlargement has turned out to be awful. 

Just before your letter came I had sent a cheque to Sapru’s* Leader 
relief fund.^ But money is not what is needed most. 

Actually I went to see Tej Bahadugi because I had heard he wasn’t 
well — and also to consult him about doing something like Sind has 
done: that is to bring over batches of children to our province and 
look after them here. Tej Bahadugi and everybody else too says that 
this will not be possible here because we shall so soon be in the same 
position ourselves. I have been frantic trying to find out what a private 
individual Hke me can do. When this children’s scheme fell through I 
thought of going to Bengal. I have written and talked to various 
people. But there again it is the same thing. Sir Tej says that the only 
good that one can do by going is to see for oneself just what conditions 
are like. I am now awaiting a letter from Abhayanandji. The Math is 
doing real good work, I hear. 

Meanwhile I am concentrating on the garden. I have put in 
cauliflower, carrot, radish & lettuce and anr now having plots prepared 
for the winter vegetables and potatoes. We have such a lot of ground. 
Feroze suggests putting in wheat too. 

At the Sapru’s they have dug up their augaii for potatoes. 

1 . SirTej Bahadur Sapru: eminent jurist and Liberal leader from Allahabad; a friend of 
the Nehnis. 

2. Bengal was struck by a famine in 1 943. Ttic Leader, a nationalist newspaper ofAllahabad. 
had instituted a relief fund to help those affected by the famine. 



Nani is still having a temperature. Little Om has at last brought 
out the pice he swallowed but he still has a bad cough. 

Lots & lots of love, darling one, 
Your loving, 


Ahmadnagar Fort Prison, 
ilth September, 1943 

Darling Indu, 

I have had a letter from Amma from Banaras. She has received one of 
my letters to her. Surprisingly — and yet why be surprised? — she says 
that part of this letter was blacked out. You can imagine what I can 
write to Amma of all persons. How any of the purely domestic matters 
concerning various people’s health outside should offend the sensitive 
judgement of the censor it is a little difficult to imagine. 

Yesterday’s newspaper brought the interesting news that Feroze 
had been acquitted in appeal. Of course it is a minor matter that he 
had already served his full sentence of a year. 

I liked the book you sent me, Han Suyin’s autobiography: 
Destination Chungking. It is very well written; her prose is clear and 
hmpid and runs effortlessly. The descriptions of Chinese hfe during 
the war, and more particularly of the bombing of Chungking are 
vivid. I thought again and again of what I had seen in Chungking 
four years ago . . . 

This was four years ago and what a lot has happened since then. 
The bombers and the bombs, unusual sights, some things that only 
occurred in far away and backward countries like Abyssinia, China 
and Spam, are now the commonest of experiences for half the world 
at least. 

It is an odd experience to go back to the past and live it again, 
almost forgetting the events that followed. As if we had visited a theatre 
and seen a powerful play which gripped us, and in which, curiously 
enough, we were both actors and spectators. 

Your loving, 



Aiiand Bfmwan, 
13 til September, 1943 

Darling Papu, 

In my last letter’ I told you that I had written to Swami Abhayanandji 
of the Ramkrishna Math. His reply came this morning. He writes; 

There is no dearth of workers in Bengal; some of the prominent 
Bengali and non-Bengali Relief Societies have already taken 
up the work of rendering help . . . Personally I would advise 
you to undertake the responsible task of collecting money, 
clothes, raw foodstuQs from other provinces and sending them 
to some of the Relief Committees. I feel it is wiser for people 
to work on the lines indicated above in other provinces for the 
help of the people of Bengal . . . 

Along with my last letter I sent you yet another book ofVirginia 
Woolf’s, The Death of the Moth. I have not yet read it. I wish I had met 
her — even the books I only discovered after her death.^ 

A couple of days ago I received another airgraph from Agatha. A 
really sweet one! Perhaps you will be interested in this further news 
of her garden: 

My garden is blossoming like the proverbial rose — a mixture 
of plants and vegetables. You would particularly love a mass 
of — what we call — tobacco plants. They only come out at night 
and when they do — they give out a glorious scent — not unlike 
the starry flowers that Indian women wear in their hair. Next 
door to us lives an interesting mineralogist, who understands 
all about soils — and the kind of nourishment different plants 
need. He is known in the district as an irritable person and he 
can be quite rude. But we have become great friends. He is 
experimenting in pumpkins that he trains up to his first floor 
and the gigantic fruits hang like golden lanterns. People come 

1. Refers to letter dated 7/9 September 1943 (No 328) 
2 VirginiaWoolf died ill 1941. 

• t'F.I^OS V Ml s • 

3 93 

troni al! over to look at tliem. but the children in Battersea also 
go Uirthcr and lean over to feel them. A strange commentar)' 
on the war situation is evidenced from their remarks — for they 
think it is a lemon plant, as. when small, they might be said to 
rc'^cmble this nearly forgotten fruit. Then one realises that 
chiliiren of that age have probably never knowm what a lemon 
is. I find that now the old doctor has put barbed wire round his 
precious e.xperimental plant and a notice on the said wire, ‘THIS 
lest these small people will be tempted to take my tomatoes 
that are now beginning to ripen and suggests that I. too, 
barricade them in some w.iy. But 1 told him that I am going to 
c.vpcriinent in the innate goodness of human nature!!! Up to 
the present this had worked, but one can never tell. Besides, 
several of these naughty children have become quite friendly 
and call out ‘give us a flower. Miss’ which I do — in the belief it 
m.ay prevent them taking my precious tomatoes! 

Re, bird watching — 1 have spotted two very regular visitors and 
hope to make friends with them soon: a lovely vivid oriole and a 
perky little robin. There are lots of blue jays too and in the afternoon 
just as 1 am settling down to a nap, I hear the call of the coppersmith — 
till; tuk. But I haven’t seen it yet. 

Much love. Papushka' darling. 
Your loving, 


21st September, 1943 

D.irling Papu, 

I hose d.iys Allahabad is h.asing one show after another in aid of the 
Bengal relief fund. It is rather remarkable how even the poorer people 
aw putting a^ide their own troubles — ^and they have enough — to give 
their tnite to Bengal. 

I am going to quote to you a psoem about a Chinese friend of 
mine. .Shelley Wang,’ You may h.ave seen it before and you may 

Indira n atnehiii}; .i RuWian ending to the fhtnil!.ir ‘P.ipu’. 

- A ChttiiHc V riter ho died in July P'39. 



remember him too — ^you met him in London once or twice. It was 
soon after that that he returned to China and was killed. The poem is 
by John Hewitt and brings a very vivid picture of Wang. Here it is: 

In Manor}' of Shelley Wang 

I cannot cheat my thought. I remember too well 

his bland smooth face by that hearth, his cigarettes, 

his explanation of the characters, 

the firm fist with the brush held vertical, 

his glinting glasses laminated thick, 

his way of speaking of his early days; 

his wise grandfather, poetry and tea, 

Confucius, soya beans, and Mao Tse Tung. . . 

He was a restful man, a quiet scholar, 
compact of wisdom, courage, tolerance 
a gentle poet even of our hills 
making a vivid stanza as he pass’d, 
disHking our literal art’s conceit, 
and setting style and reason against despair. 

For all his greatness life could offer him 
only a little death in a vast campaign, 
a manuscript unpublished, and a book 
of badly printed verse on wartime paper. 

Yet I do not think he would have understood 
that sick word failure. There are other words . . . 

The hospital is doing very well these days. It is quite full and 
many people have to be refused admission. 

My namaskars to everybody and much love to you. 

Your loving, 




Ahmadnagar Fort Prison, 
2nd October, 1943 

Indu darling, 

I remember Shelley Wang very well, although I met him only twice, I 
think, at various parties in London. He had an attractive and rather 
distinctive face. When I went to China I enquired after him but could 
not get any straight news. There seemed to be some mystery about 
him. Then someone told me that he had wanted to meet me but was 
too far away to travel to Chungking. And then came news of his 
death. I remember definitely, however, that he had a certain 
premonition of death on the eve of his departure for China from 

For some years past it used to be my custom to give some khadi 
clothing to the servants about this time of the year. Also I gave khadi 
coupons for Upadhyaya’s children. If you can carry on this practice I 
shall be glad. The children of the servants as also Upadhyaya’s little 
girls should have first preference. 

The swallows here have grown in number and have made their 
nests inside rooms and verandahs. I like them; they are so swaft and 
quiet, so unlike the noisy and quarrelsome sparrows. It is rather 
fascinating to see a swallow’s nest being built up, quietly, efficiently 
and without fuss. It seems to stick on to the bare wall or a corner 
without any visible support. AU feathers, soft and downy, collected 
probably from distant places and stuck together with some kind of 

Another frequent visitor is a kind of hummingbird, smaller than 
the average sparrow, and with a long pointed beak. It flits about from 
flower to flower extracting the honey. The Hindustani name for it is, I 
am told, shakarkhora. Then there is a great variety of butterflies. 

Here are two couplets of Ghalib: 

T jS 

. (4^^) ! (JJ^ fj* A^JU Ijt, Jaw* 

yT' jlfci Ji ^ 



In Hindi: 

^ ^ ^ % 3T5I ^ ^ ^ ^ ? 

^ ^ fFf ^3TR ^ I 

3Tra srra^-TT-^-Ti 3T?^ ^ II ’ 

The first couplet is easy. 

The second couplet is more difficult. It is often quoted. It means, 
more or less: now that every parvenu and conceited fool has constituted 
himself as a connoisseur and judge of the beautiflil, there is no honour 
or place left for those who have the eyes to see and appreciate. 

^ = greed-worshipper; = beauty; '^str = 

3RRI = dd^i; 33?;^ = Those with sight, i.e., those who 

have the capacity to appreciate beauty. 

Mention of khankah reminds me of an interesting change in name 
of a famous khankah somewhere in Central Asia. This used to be a 
Buddhist monastery in the old days and, it is said, a thousand monks 
lived there. It was called Nau Vihai. Later, when Islam spread to Central 
Asia, this monasteiy became a khankah and, with a very slight change, 
it was called Nan Bahar. Very few people connected this new name 
with its Buddhist — Indian original. 

Your loving, 

1. Ghalib'Whcn the tavern itself we’re made to leave. 
Why restrain to a specific place? 

A seminary, a monaster)' or else a mosque, 

Any place it may now be! , 

When professions of the greed-worshippers 
admiring beauty soar. 

The grace of the truly discenung ones 
finds respect no more' 




Anand Bhawan, 
[October 1943] 

Darling Papu, 

Nani writes to say that she sent some bhuni supari and miirabba to 
Chhoti Puphi, to be sent on to you. 

The books in your room have already been dusted. I have told 
Kilialiq about the Library but that will take considerable time and 
when Puphi is here it is extremely difficult to get any servant for 
upstairs work. 

I have a fair amount of work these days, with all the committees 
Feroze has formed — typing, meeting people, sending out notices and 
so on. But the rest of the time it is pretty lonely, being all alone 
upstairs. I go down for meals of course but it’s rather formal — ^like a 
hotel or something. Feroze is out of town at present. 

Darling Papu — I do miss you so much. I keep your room closed, 
for I hate going into it and finding it all empty and unhved-in. 
Sometimes when 1 see a new bird or something I feel like rushing in 
to call you to have a look and then of course I remember that you are 
somewhere in India, but definitely not in Anand Bhawan. Oh, it’s 
perfectly awful. And the house without you is asleep and unresponsive 
and awaiting your return. 

All my love, darling one, 


Anand Bhawan, 
7th /8th October, 1943 

Darling Papu, 

Your letter No. 29, dated September 25th* reached me last evening. 

Darhng — I just don’t know what to write. This last letter of yours 
has been very depressing and discouraging. Not because of anything 
you have written, let me hasten to add, but because of the state in 

1. Letter not published. 



which it arrived. Beginning from the last paragraph of page Uvo right 
up to the second paragraph of page eight is blackout! 

Vijaya Dashmi Day 

I do not know if Puphi has written to you — she is leaving Anand 
Bhawan and taking a house in Allahabad. Chhoti Puphi mentioned 
the fact when I was in Bombay but she said it was all very vague. On 
my return I asked Ladli Bhai and he knew nothing about it. But 
there was a great deal of whispering going on among the servants. I 
was reluctant to ask Puphi herself as I felt that if she had wanted to 
talk to me about it she would certainly have mentioned the subject 
herself. It was only three or four days ago that Puphi mentioned moving 
in my presence — and everything seemed to be so definite, I got quite 
a shock. I didn’t know how to broach the subject so I wrote her a 
note, because it did, and does, seem ridiculous to me that I should 
occupy this big house on my own while the four of them are crowded 
into some ‘bungalow’. Of course, having been kept completely in the 
dark so far, it was difficult for me to say anything. I told her that this 
move would hurt you and that if she was moving because of Feroze 
and me — surely we could come to some other arrangement. Feroze 
& I being only two and having so few belongings and encumbrances 
could easily go somewhere. In any case I shall be out of Allahabad 
most of the time when I start my visiting — Jaipur, Lahore, etc. And I 
want to go to Bombay too and if Feroze did come to Allahabad he 
would prefer to stay with his mother. But Puphi replied that her 
moving was not at aU because of us and this was my home, and so on. 
I do wish she were not going. This is such a wrong time to set up 
house, and engage new servants and so forth. There are difficulties 
enough in life today without our making fi-esh ones — and such artificial 
and unnecessary ones too. However, she has made up her mind now. 
I do not know when she intends moving. 

Lots of love, 



3 3 5 

Ahmadnagar Fort Prison, 
9th October, il943 

Darling Indu, 

I have your letter of the 30th Sept.* Of course you can store up your 
furniture somewhere in Anand Bhawan. What a question to ask! I 
shall write to Puphi . . . But surely it is not necessary for me to write 
to her. Nor is it necessary for you to ask my or anyone else’s 
permission. Naturally, when one lives together a certain cooperation 
is necessary and references have to be made. Mention the matter to 
Puphi and fix it up with her. 

I have suggested to Puphi that the time has come when an 
ambulatory service might be undertaken by the hospital, tapping the 
nearby villages to begin with. That is an essential development in 
India and we should begin to think on these lines. I do not like static 
conditions. That the hospital is doing good work and is crowded is 
not quite enough. It should be dynamic, progressive, experimental 
and model. Widespread medical service in India must have an 
ambulatory side. 

Your loving, 


Ahmadnagar Foit Prison, 
16th October, 1943 

DarUng Indu, 

Your last letter,^ which came yesterday, has certainly upset my 
composure and led me furiously to think, or perhaps it is more correct 
to say that my mind has been wandering like a vagabond into all 
manner of dark lanes and passages. You were right in feeling that I 
would be hurt when I learnt of Puphi s intention of shifting to a new 
house. I had not heard of this before; no one had mentioned it 
previously. So when I read of it for the first tune in your letter I was 

1. Letter not pubbshed 

2. Refers to letter dated 7/8 October 1943 (No. 334). 



taken aback, amazed, and felt very tired, a feeling I do not usually 
experience. It is a small matter in our domestic sphere and in this 
world of big happenings we cannot afford to Jose our perspective. 
And yet even such relatively small matters have a way of disturbing 
the mind. I know a large number of people of all sorts and I manage 
to get on with them tolerably well. And yet really intimate personal 
bonds are of necessity few, very few. When these are strained, it hurts. 
Sometimes this becomes inevitable and circumstances beyond ones 
control drive one to it. But that, I think, is very rare and usually there 
is some defect in us, something lacking, that leads to such 
consequences. And the main defect is probably a want of perfect 
frankness. We nurse thoughts and misapprehensions when perhaps a 
frank approach would resolve them or, at any rate, lead us to an 
understanding of the others viewpoint. 

What do we aim at in life? Many things, personal and impersonal. 
In a sense every problem can be reduced, in the final analysis, to the 
problem of human relationships, the relation of one individual to 
another and to the group, and that of groups inter se. The group may 
be the family, a circle of friends, neighbours, city folk, nation and 
ultimately it becomes the international group, the world. Harmonious 
living in its smallest as well as its largest aspects is the ideal. In order to 
achieve it we evolve our political, economic, social formulae and isms, 
and even struggle with each other. But no formula or ism can take the 
place of the essence of harmonious living, which is a matter of judgment 
and balance, of tact and sensitiveness, of continuous adjustment and a 
consideration of others. If we succeed in this to some extent we gam 
poise and equilibrium even in a mad world. 

Another way of putting the essential problem is how to strike a 
balance between the claims of the individual and of the larger social 
group — ^between individualism and some kind of communism. (I am 
not using the word in its usual and technical sense.) To suppress the 
individual is bad and stops growth, to allow individualism full play is 
to have anarchy. 

Society in ancient China and ancient India tended to concentrate 
on a small group — the family. It did not encourage, at either end, the 
individual or the national group. It evolved, as nowhere else, the family 
system in a wide sense. It lost much thereby, but it managed to develop 
certain very desirable virtues also. There were far fewer self-centred 
individuals; there was a capacity for cooperation within the group, for 
adjustment, judgment, tact, poise, balance. One sees that still in China 



in spite of all that has happened. There is a real anstocracy and well- 
bredness about the Chinese which is impressive. I am afraid we in 
India do not show this, for we have undergone a long process of 
breaking up. Yet somewhere, I suppose, beneath the surface, that 
training of thousands of years must subsist. 

In the West individuahsm was emphasised much more, ivith certain 
remarkable results in the shape of progress. It went too far and is now 
leading more and more to an inevitable socialism and communism. 
With all their manifest virtues, it is surprising how Westerners 
(individuals apart) lack poise and balance. 

I suppose the East & the West, having explored life in different 
directions, are unconsciously or consciously going to pool their 
resources some time or other, and find a common path of harmonious 

I fear I can do nothing m family affairs or other matters while I am 
here, cut off from contact and activity. Each one of you will have to 
shift for yourself as best you can. For my part, where family affairs are 
concerned, my mind inevitably goes back to my father — Dadu — and 
I try to think what he would have preferred. Apart from my affection 
for him and my regard for his memory, I owe too much to him ever to 
forget his wishes. 

I do not know if all this rigmarole will interest you. My mind is 
full of what I read in your letter yesterday and I wanted to share a part 
of It with you. I shall write to Puphi in the course of the next few 

You say that you keep my room closed. Shall I tell you how I 
reacted to a somewhat similar situation when you were in Switzerland 
and England? Often I was quite alone in the house, for Puphi in 
those days was in Lucknow. I kept the door between your room and 
mine wide open. Every morning I visited your room and every night 
I went there to bid it goodnight. I wanted the room to look bright 
and airy and cheerful, almost as if you were hving there and had just 
gone out and might come back at any moment. Sometimes I had 
flowers placed there. 

I give below two verses by Hali: 

Jt. '€ (Sy^ J Jj- 

«i- ^ ij*f Ol>- JY 

^ jk *i llL. Oljji 

(J^) «i. Y yS' ^ ^ jyt 



In Hindi: 

^ ^ t (chtlttil t I 

4)rt 3Tr%'3Rn xfTH II 

4feT-TT-^ ^ ^ ^ %4T I 

t, ^ t II ^ 

^ is the name of a well-known tree in Persia; is the name of a 
bird; <d«il = autunm; "^44 = garden; 'nfel-TT-^ = the rolling heaven = 

The three names in the last line are of places in Central Asia. They 
often occur in Urdu & Persian writing. 

My love to you, my dear — ^keep cheerful and fit. 

Your loving, 


Anand Bhawan, 
[21st October, 1943] 

Darhng Papu, 

I wonder if Puphi has written to you. She said she would. She left for 
Calcutta on the 17th and the next day, Pdta and Anna moved into 
their new house, taking with them Rita’s cocker spaniel. Punch, but 
leaving behind poor httle Breezy, who was desolate. Fortunately she 
is quite happy now. In a way it is a good thing that she was not taken 
for Rita was so obviously partial to Punch that Breezy went about 
often with a hurt look in her eye. Breezy and I were both feeling 
rotten and very lonely, when luckily and quite unexpectedly Feroze 
turned up — back from Cawnpore. Since then we have both been 

1. Hali:Who has the right on this garden? 

Both, the cypress tree and the ringed dove, do contend; 
Whose is It? 

The autumn will soon pronounce on them! 

Time and again 

The ceaseless round of heavens has shown 
Who is to hold Marv 

And who to hold Badakhshan and Tartary! 



very domesticated and busy. I have been clearing up godowns and 
taking stock of linen, etc. And it is by no means over yet. I want 
everything spick and span and ready to use. So that when you, or a 
dozen guests come there will be no last-minute rushing! Feroze has 
been spending all his time in the garden — flowers as well as vegetables. 

Your room is aired and cleaned every day. Hari had cluttered up 
your dressing room with some of my belongings. But I am having it 
cleared. A great problem is the accumulation of books. At the moment 
they have overflowed from the bookcases on to the floor. 

The winter birds are coming in. I saw a redstart yesterday. Rather 
an amusing litde fellow, the way he shivers his tail all the time. His call 
is exactly like the squeak of an unoiled bicycle wheel. There is even 
a slight pause between one squeak and the next, just enough for one 
revolution of the wheel! This morning a blue jay caught a baby mouse 
and sat and devoured it on our porch! 

Lots of love, 


Ahmadnagar Fort Prison, 
23rd October, 1943 

Darling Indu, 

Last week^ I gave you my reactions about the proposal that Puphi 
should move into a new house. A few days later I wrote in more or 
less the same vein to Puphi. Having done so, my job is over and I do 
not worry any longer over it. Nor should you. 

I wonder if you could find and send me my little foot-rug which 
I had in Dehra Dun and used for spinning and some exercises — 
asanas? I used to have a coir-mattress in my room here but bugs — 
khatiual — took possession of it and multiphed exceedingly and so I 
discarded it. Without some kind of soft material to lie on it is difficult 
to do some of the asans. Hence the need for the foot-rug. 

So you are spinning. It is dreary work to begin with but as soon as 
one gets into the swing of it, there is a fascination about it. I am 
spinning more or less daily for about half an hour. This is not much 
and hence I am not producing much yarn, though I spin fairly fast. 

1 Refers to letter dated 16 October 1943 (No 336). 



Since I began, seven weeks ago, I have spun about 11,000 yards of 25- 
30 count yarn.^ I am told that about 30,000 yards are required for a 
sari. In another four months I might have enough for a sari for you! 

What happened to the yarn I spun in Dehra? I gave it to Psyche 
and a small piece of it came for you last year at the time of your 
wedding. But I had given enough yarn, I think, for four saris or their 

When you were at Panchgani I suggested to you to glance through 
Sylvain Levi’s Le Thecitre Indien which I was returning to Psyche. I 
have now been reading a more recent book on the subject: Keith’s 
The Sanskrit Drama. It gives much more information and recent 
discoveries but it is minus the poetic lilt of Sylvain Levi. Why are 
scholars’ books dull? 

I am fascinated by the old theatre of Greece and India, the only 
two countries which had it. China had something but it was not, as far 
as I know, developed. The art of the theatre tells us more about a 
culture and civilisation than most other things. It makes the past live 
and we can see and understand it in terms of human beings. Greece 
& India in this respect offer us very different pictures of the theatre. 
There is a majesty about the Greek drama, a power which grips. On 
the other hand the Indian drama is, curiously enough, a little more 
akin to our modern conceptions (the analogy should not be taken 
far). The language is majestic enough sometimes, and frequently it 
has an entrancing lyrical beauty. But, above all, there is a human-ness 
about this Sanskrit-Prakrit drama which is pleasing. 

Do you know an interesting fact? The earliest known Sanskrit play 
(by Ashvaghosa) was discovered at Turfan on the edge of the Gobi 
desert! Some other early plays were discovered in Tibet. Turfan has 
long fascinated me as a place where several great cultures intermingled, 
far away, right on the edge of a great desert. I wrote something about 
it in Glimpses. 

Old Ashvaghosa^ was a Buddhist propagandist. He was a resident 
of Ayodhya probably (round about the beginning of the Christian 
era). His mother’s name was Suvaranakshi — rather sweet. It means 
‘the golden-eyed’. 

Two more Urdu couplets but, tell me, do you want them? The 
first is by Akbar of Allahabad. It is a good definition, if the word may 

1. Refers to the thickness of the yam spun. 

2. Ashvaghosa was a poet and philosopher at the court of Kanishka. 



be used, of the conception of God or the supernatural. 

liT Jjsjl Jii 

( ) I ^Sy cri b* 

In Hindi: 

^ ^ srcn I, ^ ^ ^Ttcrr 

nipJJT |3TT, TO, ■qFTOt ^ t ' ' 

try tr* *5*'^ uif «y 

^ ^ «♦. ^U- «J *J 

anfro ; 

cR ^ ^ ■fcJTOT 

TO TO TOTI I %1toTO 4^ 3F2T — ^ 

toW = Nakedness. 

Your loving, 

3 39 

Ahmadnagar Fort Prison, 
30th October, 1943 

Darling Indu, 

A few days ago I received the typescript of Pupha’s translation of 
Kalidasa’s Ritusamhara — I liked it. Somehow this put me in mind of 
my own MS which I wrote in Dehra and left unfimshed. This was, in 
a ^vay, a continuation of my Autobiogiaphy. It is completely out of date 
now and of little use. There are some chapters in it, however, which 
interest me from a different point of view.They form a group containing 

1 Akbar AUahabadcTo our hearts Thou dost come, 
Beyond our reach Thou remamst; 

Thus alone Thou dost manifest Thyself 

2 Atish' No dress in the world is good 
As naked^ajuty js, 

A gTrijicfir^Kis; 

Noywtbn'g-side whicln'e’er shows! 

r r V. 



a rapid review of Indian culture, etc. One of them is called ‘The 
Discovery of India’. Because of these chapters I should like to have 
this MS, or rather typescript, if that is possible. 

You will find this in the steel cupboard in my dressing room — the 
one nearer the bathroom. 

Love to you & Feroze. 

Your loving, 


Anand Bhatmi, 
5th November, 1943 

Darling Papu, 

Your foot-rug has been found. I am sending it along widi a pair of 

If you remember, my wedding blouse and handkerchief were made 
of your yarn. Some of it has gone into the making of a sari which 
Psyche wants to present to Madame Chiang. Handkerchiefs have also 
been made out of it. 

For many nights before Ditvali, I would wake around five in the 
morning with a feeling that there was a light on my face, and open 
my eyes straight on to one of the biggest stars I have ever seen. It 
didn’t twinkle so I guessed it was a planet, but I didn’t know which. I 
used to he looking at it and wondering if you could see it too. And 
then I would say good morning to it, hoping that the message would 
be passed on to you. The planet was so big and bright that on at least 
two nights the pillars and trees cast shadows that must have been due 
to its light — for there was no moon. 

My furniture has been stored for so long, Feroze said it would get 
spoilt if we did not use it for a short while. So we have rearranged the 
dining room. I have taken down all the old pictures and put up all the 
Roerich ones and a flag. The room is really looking lovely. 

Much love to you, Papu darling. 
Your loving. 





Ahmadmgar Fort Prison, 
6th November, 1943 

Indu darling, 

This letter wiU reach you probably a little before your birthday; my 
next will be too late for it. So this must carry an extra load of love and 
good wishes for you. You have turned the quarter of a century — how 
imposing it sounds! So, my love to you, cara iiiio, and may the difficulties 
and the distresses that surround us strengthen you in mind and body, 
and not abate the capacity to live wholesomely and beautifully and to 
take joy fi'om the beauty and goodness of life, in spite of the ugliness 
and ills that lie around us . . . 

I am very glad you have taken Anand Bhawan in hand and are 
rejuvenating it. 

Puphi writes to me that already you have made a great difference 
to Anand Bhawan. T wish you could see what Indu has done to the 
house. It has become alive and beautifiil.’ 

What about fixing up one room as a kind of ‘China room’? We 
have plenty of odds and ends from China lying about unused or 
wrongly used. 

Your loving, 


Ahmadmgar Fort Prison, 
13th November, 1943 

Darling Indu, 

There has been a gap in your letters and I have not had any for just a 
fortnight today. I hope this simply means that you are busy renovating 
and putting new life into Anand Bhawan. 

Why do you not invite some of your fidends to pay you visits and 
stay in Anand Bhawan for a few days or weeks at a time? This habit of 
people visiting each other — outside the family circle and except for 
so-called festive occasions — is not common in India. It should be 
encouraged. I am sure your friends will enjoy their visits and you wiU 
have agreeable company. You have plenty of friends m Bombay, 
Lahore, Delhi and elsewhere. You have not met them for a long time. 



A little hospitality shown to them and a few days’ pleasant 
companionship will be welcomed. Ismet^ for instance — Kupton’s 
wife — whose guests we have been often enough. 

I am anxious about Raja — ^Betty writes that he has been having 
repeated and very painful attacks of asthma and has lost 22 pounds in 
weight. He was frightfully lanky and thin to begin with. What he 
must look now, I find it difficult to imagine. 

Your loving 


Anand Bhawan, 
14th November, 1943 

My darling one. 

Thank you for your letter^ which came on your birthday. Thank you 
for your good wishes and your love, which is to me the most beautiful 
and precious thing in the world. So do not bother about presents and 
the like. 

Hari turned up exceptionally early this morning. He and Klialiq 
stood in the doorway of my room grinning broadly. For a moment I 
could not think what the matter was — then suddenly producing two 
bouquets and a goldy garland from behind their backs: mubarak ho! 
The garland has been draped over and the flowers are around your 
picture which is on my writing-table. So you will know that we are 
all thinking of you today and every day. 

Darling, I am not changing anything in the house until you are 
here to give your approval. 

I am, however, full of ideas of some changes I should like to make. 
But these must wait until you come and when the times are less 
troubled. Psyche suggested when she was here that our drawing room 
should be completely Indian — I do agree with her. It was then I 
thought of the ‘China’ room — so we must be telepathic, you and I. 

Much love, 

1 . Wife of Mian Iftikliaraddin, in whose house Nehru stayed in Lahore. 

2. Refers to letter dated 6 November 1943 (No. 341). 




Ahmadmgar Fort Prison, 
20tb November, i943 

Darling Indu, 

Your letters No. 35 and 36' have reached me. Also some books, 
periodicals, foot-rug and the chopsticks, unbroken. Thank you. 

There is never any hurry for the books or other articles I mention 
to you. We do not live in a world of hurry here. Time moves slowly 
and at a dead level without ups and downs. I mention to you odd 
things as the whim seizes me, not requiring them urgently or, indeed, 
at all, but just for variety’s sake. 

Betty has sent some books and some pictures by Amrita Shergil^ 
which Kitabistan have issued on behalf of the Allahabad Roerich 
Centre. I like some of these pictures. Even more so they remind me 
of Amrita — did you ever meet her? I saw her only half a dozen times, 
usually at intervals of a year, but I grew to like her very much. She was 
unusual and was obviously very gifted. She wanted to do a sketch of 
me but this never came off. Just before my arrest in October 1940 I 
happened to be in Gorakhpur (it was for that speech in Gorakhpur 
that 1 was arrested and sentenced to four years). I was very busy but I 
managed to fit in a hurried visit to a sugar factory about eighteen 
miles from the town. Amrita was living with her people then and I 
went especially to see her. I was there for only a few minutes and 
then she motored back with me to Gorakhpur, A strange change had 
come over her since her return from France four years earlier. She 
was so full of confidence, so vital and self-possessed then; life was a 
straight and easy job except for those who were afraid. This self- 
assurance was no longer in evidence and life did not appear quite so 
simple or straight. She was quiet. Artistically, that is, in relation to her 
art, she was also changing. From painting typical French salon pictures 
she was drifting to India in many ways. I asked her to come for a few 
days to Allahabad and she promised to do so ... I was arrested. The 
day after my release fi-om Dehra Dun I heard on the radio that she 
had suddenly died. There was some mystery about it. Her poor mother 
went wild with grief; indeed she became quite demented and made 

1. Refers to letter dated 5 November 1943 (No 340); other letter not published. 

2. Amnta Shergil (1913-1941). Indian painter. 


• iwo AioNr.TWo loc.iTnnn • 

extraordinary charges against some people. 

I had quite a shock. She was not the kind of person one meets 
often It was very sad that one so gifted should die in early youth. 

Your loving, 


Auand Bimim, 
22iid November, 1943 

Darling Papu, 

I have just come in from the garden. A couple of months ago it was 
one mass of entangled weeds. And now — the hedges trimmed, lawn 
mowed, flowerbeds so neat with their tiny seedlings. I know nothing 
whatsoever about gardens, so I was just about giving up in de.spair 
when Feroze took over. He has done a good job of it too — that’s one 
thing about Feroze, whatever he undertakes he does thoroughly. I 
found that he has the necessary informarion too and that is what made 
all the dilTercnce in Datadin’s work. From the portico to the gate on 
the right hand side (facing the gate) we have antirrhinum and tuberose; 
on the other side, there are asters, verbena, calendula, petunia, phlox, 
candy tuft, nasturtium, pink, and larkspur. Bordering the road from 
the gate to about halfasaiy up the drive there are more dahlias and 
from there right up to the kitchen we have sweet peas. The garden 
will be lovely when all the flowers are blooming. Our vegetable plot 
is being looked after even more carefully than the flowers and is just 
as attractive to look at. We have got cauliflowers, beans, brinjal, tomato, 
spinach and radishes. These we are eating every day. Nothing from 
the bazaar could possibly be so tender and fresh and good to eat. Not 
yet edible are the French beans, peas, cabbages, turnips, lettuce, celery, 
pansley and mint. So far everything, including the potatoes and the 
wheat, is doing well. Our chief headache is the porcupine. They come 
in hordes to destroy our best cauliflowers and odier things too. The 
squirrels nibble at the peas and the rabbits nibble at anything green! 
This evening I am off to Jaipur at last. I propose spending a week 
with Masi. I am taking Khaliq with me. Feroze is staying on here. 

Much love, 




Ahinadimgar Fort Prison, 
27th November, 1943 


Betty has sent me two books, one on your behalf and the other on 
Psyche’s, as birthday gifts. Your gift — ^Havell’s’ Ideals of Indian Art — 
was particularly appropriate as I have long wanted to read it. Psyche’s 
present is a fat 800-page book by the Beards ofAmerica — TheAmeiican 
Ijcviathan — a very leviathan of a book! 

Three countries interest me greatly at present, apart from my own. 
These are the U.S.A., the U.S.S.R. & China. Each of these attracts me 
for some different reason, for they are so different from each other. 
Yet essentially I think of them as countries with a big future . . . 
Somehow Europe does not attract me so much now, There is a lack of 
vitality, of freshness about it ... I want fresh fields, fresh avenues of 
thought, fresh reactions. I do not get these in Europe or from Europe 
now. But I do get them from America, Russia & China, though China 
IS different of course. China is continually reminding me of India but 
in a curious way, a looking-glass way, where things are the same in 
many ways and yet different. China often helps me to understand 
India more, both appreciatively and critically. Somehow I cannot rid 
myself of the thought that we shall have a great deal to do with these 
three countries in the future — ^America, Russia & China. 

I notice that Edward Thompson has come out with a new book: 
The Making of the Indian Princes. Normally he would have sent this on 
to me. Anyway please note the name and get it when you can. 

Your loving, 

1. E.B Havell (1861— 1934); a former principal of the Government School of Art and 
Keeper of the Art G.iller^' Calcutta; author o( Indian Sculpture and Painting, Benares the 
Saacd City and many other books 




Ahmadnagar Fort Prison, 
4th December, t943 

Darling Indu, 

So you have gone to Jaipur. I wonder if you will visit Amber, the old 
fortress some miles out of Jaipur. Few places have reminded me so 
vividly of medieval times, of knights in armour, and chivalry and the 
Rajput of old legend as Amber did when I visited it many years ago. 

Your account of the progress that the garden has made is quite 
exciting. Obviously this is your and Feroze’s doing. A beautiful garden 
looks far lovelier if personal labour has gone into its making. Does 
not that apply to most things? 

Betty has sent me, as a birthday present, an ivory Nataraja, probably 
made in Travancore. It is a fine piece of work and, rather miraculously, 
it has reached me unbroken. I like it but it is not particularly suited to 
prison life. Delicate works of art do not fit in here. 

As is my uncontrollable habit, I am giving a list of books below. 
This has been made out of reviews and catalogues and most of them, 
I am sure, are unobtainable here. Still you might note them down, 
and if you come across any of them later on, get it. 

1 . Viscount Wavell 

2. —Do— : 

3. Stefan Zweig : 

4. Ilya Ehrenburg 

5. H.G. Wells : 

6. Lionel Fielden : 

7. Lin Yu-tang : 

8. L.H. Ajwani : 

9. Dr Quaritch Wales : 

10. Reginald Reynolds: 

11. Edith Sitwell ; 

12. Kate Mitchell 

13. J.H. Breasted 

Alknby.A Study in Greatness 

Allenby in Egypt 

The World of Yesterday 

Russia at War 

You Can’t be Too Careful 

Beggar my Neighbour (Seeker & Warburg, 

3sh. 6d.) 

The Wisdom of China and India 
Immortal India (Educational Publishing 
Co., Karachi) 

Towards Angkor (Harrap, 1933) 

Cleanliness & Godliness (AUen & 

Unwin, 12sh. 6d.) 

A Poet’s Note Book (Macmillan, lOsh. 

ludia (Bodley Head) 

The Dawn of Conscience (New York) 



14. Thomas Ryan : Men in Chains (Peter Davies, London, 

8sh. 6d.) 

Love to you and Feroze. 

Your loving, 


Anand Bhawan, 
8th December, 1943 

Darling Papu, 

This tvas my first visit to Jaipur. In terms of history, Jaipur is quite 
young and yet it gives a greater impression of antiquity and a clinging 
to things past than many of our ancient cities, such as Prayag. I liked 
the wide swinging skirts of the women and the colourful turbans of 
the men. Englishmen and Anglo-Indians were conspicuous by their 
absence. Not so their influence, which was in evidence in a hundred 
little ways; society folk wearing suits. Picturesque streetnames, such 
as Chaura Rasta, side by side with Sir So-and-so road. Grotesque angels 
m the midst of an exquisite carving of Rajput dancers. Magnificent 
old trees being cut down, ancient gardens dug up to make ‘modern 
parks’. The printing of Sanganer and marble carving dying out for 
want of appreciation. 

My visit was too short to fit in everything, but I saw some beautiful 
old Jain temples. And in the City Palace a remarkable collection of 
Rajput and Moghul painting. In this same collection was a Persian 
translation of the Mahabharata done, they say, in the reign of Akbar. 

Jaipur is also the city of Mummie’s ancestors. There is still the 
ancient house of Morilal Atal^ in the Chama Rasta — and numerous 
other relatives are scattered about the town. 

Masi’s^ eldest son — ^Naresh — is a bright lad. He is not twelve yet. 
Drives beautifully. Can take a radio or a car engine apart and, what is 
more, fix it up again. 

Much love from your loving, 

1 Moulal Atal: great-grandfather of Kamala Nehru He was Prime Minister ofjaipur. 
2. Refers to Swarup Kathju, younger sister of Kamala Nehru. 




Ahmadnagar Fort Prison, 
llth December, 1943 

Darling Indu, 

I received the books sent by Edward Thompson. There are three of 

1 . New Recessional & Other Poems 

2. The Life of Charles Lord Metcalfe 

3. The Making of the Indian Princes 

I want you to write to Edward Thompson and tell him that I have 
received these three books. No gift that I could have had here could 
be more welcome, nor could I have wished for a better inscription 
than what he has written in the book on the Indian Princes. I often 
think of him and of the bond of friendship that ties us. Such bonds 
have helped me greatly to keep sane and sober, and not to allow 
‘black thinking’, as they call it very appropriately in the language of 
prison, to find a home in my mind. 

Your loving, 


Ahmadnagar Fort Prison, 
18th December, 1943 

Darling Indu, 

I was interested to learn of your impressions of Jaipur. Those 
impressions of old India would have been confirmed and emphasised 
if you had gone to Udaipur which is still, I believe, a relic of feudal 
times Rajputana has an old-world atmosphere which clings to it and 
surprises a newcomer from outside. In spite of its misery, poverty and 
backwardness, there is a charm of history and tradition, of chivalry 
and blind courage, and one’s mind inevitably travels back to those 
tales of long ago of brave men and beautiful women who cared for 
honour and self-respect more than for life or anything else. There 
also you find the remains of old artistry, and leisurely craftsmanship, 



alas dying now and almost dead. 

How I regret that I did not explore these parts of India and many 
others when I had the chance and could do so unobserved and m 
peace. It fills me with rage that I should have spent so much of my 
time in places like Mussoone and Nainital and Simla, when all this 
loveliness and charm were there to visit, to see and enjoy, and learn 

But though I could not go myself to many places, and even when 
I went, I rushed through, surrounded by crowds, my mind became 
more and more absorbed with this mystery of India in her manifold 
aspects. I tried to fathom this, to have glimpses behind the surface, to 
understand what this country of ours had been and was now. 

Love to you and Feroze. 

Your loving, 


Ahmadna^ar Fort PrisoHj 
31st December, 1943 

Darling Indu, 

So 1943 goes into history and becomes a memory, a spot in the long 
record of things remembered and forgotten. Is it Time that passes us, 
or rather is it we that pass and call our passing Time? As when we 
travel in a railway train and city and town and village appear in ordered 
sequence and pass us by, giving us the impression that they exist one 
after the other. Daily and hourly we change and each new aspect of 
ourselves is just a wee bit different firom the last. So dead and past 
selves pile up behind us but the new self, itself a tiling of the moment, 
ever changing, carries the impress of aU these past selves upon it, past 
experiences and thoughts and trails, dreams and reveries, and the 
hard knocks of existence. Looking back, one sees this long and 
interminable succession of past selves, fading into each other like 
ghosts of things that were and are no more. 

Do you know that our ancestors of long, long ago had, unlike 
most people, a very powerful idea of Time? The ancient Greeks had 
no word for more than a myriad or ten thousand, the Romans stopped 
at the mille or thousand, and the Arabs also had no word beyond a 
thousand. But the old Indians had a definite notation, in a scale of 



ten, with names for numbers which went up to prodigious figures — 
over fifty zeros added to i. They thought of time in terms of millions 
and billions of years and at the same time their smallest unit of time 
was l/17th of a second. But their most wonderful discovery, two 
thousand years ago, was that of zero. Every child knows this now but 
to evolve this zero idea for the first time must have been the work of 
a mighty genius. It has been called one of the great world discoveries 
of all time. On that is based aU our modern arithmetic and algebra 
and so much else. Shunya (nothing) zero is called in Sanskrit and 
from that has come the Hindi Siiniia. 

Now zero is a very odd thing. If you divide anything by it, the 
result takes you to conceptions which are not easy to grasp — it is 
infinity. The old Sanskrit commentators, at a loss for a more homely 
comparison, compared this result to one of the attributes of God! . . . 

I wrote to you again to arrange to give out of my account some 
financial help for Bengal relief. I suggested that you should get Rs. 
1000/- (one thousand) from Bachhraj for the purpose. This to begin 

Later, I should like to give some more money. 

Personally I would prefer it to go to the ‘Save the Children Fund’ 
started by the Women’s Conference, for that is a definite object which 
goes beyond just feeding the starving. The idea of concentrating more 
on the children appeals to me. 

So on to the New Year and all good luck to you. 

My love. 
Your loving, 


Anand Bhawan, 
New Year’s Day, 1944 

Darling Papu, 

Poor Pupha is very ill indeed & this last week he has become very 
weak and has great difficulty in breathing. He has been asking for 
Rita — so Puphi rang up to say that Rita & Anna should proceed to 
Lucknow as soon as possible, as Rita’s presence would at least set 



Puphi’s mind at peace. Feroze and I are also going to Lucknow 
tomorrow night. 

Much love, 


3rd January, 1944 

Darling Papu, 

In spite of all I had been told, I was shocked to see Pupha so weak. I 
saw him only for a moment when oxygen was being administered to 
him. He is given oxygen every few hours. He vras sitting bolt upright, 
propped up by innumerable pillows and cushions. Puphi tells me 
that is his normal position night and day for over a week now. There 
was plenty of fluid present in the lung — or wherever it is — ^but it 
seemed to have collected in various ‘pockets’ and could not be tapped. 

Pratapji & Saraswati Bai have arrived. I believe Chhoti Puphi and 
Rajabhai are also thinking of coming. 

I have not brought clothes for more than a couple of days so I 
shall probably return to Allahabad in a day or two, and then come 
back to Lucknow. 

Much love, 


Ahmadnagar Fort Prison, 
18th January, 1944 

Darling Indu, 

I did not write to you last week. Instead, I wrote to Puphi. On Friday, 
January 14, I was informed that Pupha had died that morning in 
Lucknow. ' 

During the last week I have received more letters than usual — two 
from Puphi, three from you. All of them mention some slight progress 
in Pupha’s condition, give hope of recovery. Some of diem have come 
afier the news of his death. 

1 Ranjit Pandit died on 14 January 1944 


Deaths in the family break the routine of existence and upset not 
only our minds but our ways of Hving. Gradually we adjust ourselves 
to the new scheme. There has been litde of routine in all our lives, no 
settling down, and we have long been travellers in an unknown country, 
not knowing where our next temporary halt might be. So for us the 
process of adjustment is perhaps less difficult than for those who live 
more normal lives. 

I might be somewhat irregular in my letters to you for a week or 
two — I intend writing to Chand and Tara’ at the next opportunity. 

Your loving, 


Anatid Bhawati, 
19th January, 1944 

Darling Papu, 

My heart aches for you. So far and with no work into which to immerse 
your sorrow. But what can one say — what consolation can one give? I 
have been in such a daze these last days. Life itself seems to be so 
pointless sometimes. From the minute we are born, -with that first 
effort for breath, begins a Hfetime of struggle. The years and years 
through infancy, childhood, manhood and old age are full of struggle, 
for something or the other, for health, for fame, for fortune. And then 
suddenly as if somebody had blown off a candle, pouffl it’s all finished. 
The individual with his likes and dislikes, his opinions and 
prejudices — in fact everything that makes him what he is, is no more, 
is just a ‘body’. Dust thou art and to dust return. And when you have 
lost life itself, is it any consolation that you are remembered and 
mourned, that you have left a big or a small mark on the world and its 

I am glad I went to Lucknow and had a last glimpse of Pupha. He 
was so weak but he smiled his characteristic smile and I couldn’t 
imagine that he would not get well. And when the news actually 

1. Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit’s two elder daughters were studying at Wellesley College in 



came I kept on repeating to myself. ‘It’s all a ghastly mistake, Feroze 
must have misunderstood Puphi on the phone.’ 

Puphi and Rita are both bearing up wonderfully. 

My thoughts are with you constantly. 

All my love to you, 


Anand Bhawan, 
23rd January, J944 

My darling one, 

Your letter to Puphi arrived yesterday. Beautiful it was — but so 
unbearably, heartbreakmgly sad. I read it so quickly and yet the 
sentences have got burned into my brain, or so it seems, for all night 
through I tossed and turned and always they were in front of me. And 
your voice in my ears. You have had, just as India herself has had, 
more than your share of grief and sorrow. It is India’s greatness as it is 
your own that through it all you have remained stricken but undaunted. 
Perhaps it is that the Providence that fashions us humans as we are, 
knows what burdens we shall have to carry and accordingly endows 
some with broader shoulders and stronger characters, bigger hearts 
and greater endurance. 

And meanwhile whatever we may feel, each absorbed in his own 
personal sorrow — not only our family but the millions of other Indians 
who are suffering untold miseries — the world goes on as it has been 
for thousands of years. In the hospital next door babies are being 
born — right here in our own compound the garden is brighter and 
more beautiful than ever before. 

Much love to you, 




Ahmadnagar Fort Prison, 
1st February, 1944 

Indu darling, 

Two of your letters, dated Jan. 19 and 23,^ came to me together soon 
after I had sent you my last letter. They were full of the burden of 
sorrow and an emotional upheaval at the suddenness of death and all 
the questionings that this experience gives rise to. Out of this eternal 
questioning has arisen philosophy with all its problems, and 
throughout the ages innumerable people have wondered over this 
mystery of life and death. Philosophy has come to you early not only 
because of personal shock but also the larger tragedies that surround 
us. It depends on each one of us how we face these questions, how 
[we] react to them. We weaken under the stress and lose our sense of 
poise and equilibrium, or grow stronger and more capable of riding 
the storm and yet being not too much affected by it. 

Reason and argument go some way to shape our minds and direct 
our activities. Yet in the final analysis we act because of that inner urge 
within us, which has been formed and conditioned by so many factors 
which have gone to our making — our own experiences chiefly, piling 
up one on top of the other firom birth and childhood onwards, the 
influence of others, our heredity and our racial and cultural inheritance, 
our education, the sensations we have known and experienced. 

So our reactions to events vary. Some, and among them have been 
wise men, think all this business of life a thing of sound and fury 
signifying nothing. Others have discovered or felt a meaning in it all. 
Yet others, uncertain whether there is any meaning or not, still are 
compelled by some force within them to adopt objectives and codes 
of behaviour and follow them with all their might. Perhaps that itself 
signifies some deep intuitive faith in a meaning. However that may 
be, most of us affirm life and it is right that we should do so positively, 
rather than just carry on negatively. 

Twenty-five hundred years ago the Buddha addressing his followers 
said: ‘. . . while ye, O disciples, experienced this sorrow through long 
ages, more tears have flowed fiom you and have been shed by you, 
while ye strayed and wandered on this pilgrimage of Hfe, and sorrowed 

1. Refers to letters dated 19 and 23 January 1944 (Nos. 355 and 356). 



and wept, because that was your portion which ye abhorred, and that 
which ye loved was not your portion, than all the waters which are in 
the four great oceans.’ 

A sad thought and though a true one, yet perhaps with an 
overemphasis on the pain and suffering of life, Buddha was frequently 
emphasising this and many people therefore call Buddhism a religion 
of pessirmsm. Yet the face of Buddha in the statues that his faithful 
followers have made with loving care, and even more so in the image 
of him that I have in my mind, is so devoid of pain and sorrow, so full 
of peace and calm and compassion, that I cannot connect it with 
suffering. Or does it represent the conquest over sorrow? I do not 
think of him as a man of sorrows. 

And then, going to the lands where Buddhism stiU flourishes, we 
do not find the people pessimistic at all. Where could there be more 
of the joy and affirmation of life than in the Chinese people? Is that a 
racial characteristic, I wonder, which has overcome and transmuted 
the pessimistic tendencies of the faith, or is it something else? I do not 
know. But I do know that I am seldom depressed for long by events, 
however painful they might be for the moment, and a certain 
unreasoning faith in life rises up in me and keeps me going. I cannot 
argue about it but it fills me and therefore fife is an affirmation to me 
and not a negation. 

What a letter I am writing! A vague and possibly unmeaning attempt 
at philosophy in its relation to life, or perhaps just a glimpse of that 
restless and wandering creature, my mind. I have written as I have 
done because I want you to have such ghmpses and to realise, as I do, 
the extraordinary fascination of life’s adventure. That pilgrimage would 
be no adventure if it lay in the ruts of normal experience and cautious 
conduct, safety first in everything, like the slow-moving river on an 
almost level plain. The body has its adventures and experiences, and 
many are worth having, but the real adventures are of the mind. Indeed, 
all feelings and experiences are ultimately of the mind, and the mind 
itself IS part of the body. 

There is the adventure of the individual, the adventure of the race, 
and finally the world adventure — and all tend to get mixed up 
together — and we can be parties to all these adventures. If the 
individual’s adventure has an ending, the others continue and carry 
us to an endless future. Our country, tragic as she may appear to us at 
the present moment, has been carrying on her story and her quest 
since the dawn of history many thousands of years ago. That quest 



will surely continue and merge itself in the conditions of the modern 
world, into the world-quest for life and freedom and adventures of 
the mind and spirit. 

Your loving, 


Ahmadnagar Fort Prison, 
8th February, 1944 

Darling Indu, 

It is two weeks now since I had your last letter.* I await news of you 
and from you and want to be assured that you have got over the shock 
of recent events and are keeping well. 

Betty sent me some time ago Tod’s^ Aunals of Rajasthan — three 
volumes. I had thought of the book over a year ago in connection 
with your birthday. At that time it was not available. You were in Naini 
then. So the book was meant for you and it will be sent to you later. 
Meanwhile, I have been dipping into it and reading large chunks of 
it. Many of the stories I know, having read them or heard them in my 
childhood. Going back to them after this long interval, I found a new 
fascination in them and for some days my mind has been filled with 
these tales of Rajput chivalry and courage which mocked at death. In 
most countries you will find similar stories of bygone days, and yet it 
will be hard to beat these tales of Mewar and Rajasthan. We, living in 
a more sophisticated age, grow cynical and reckless courage and 
audacity, which cared not at all for the consequences, seem a little 
foolish and belonging to the childhood of the race. Yet there is 
something about sheer heroism and bodily courage which holds one 
and thrills. Pride and honour and to keep the plighted word were the 
Rajput virtues, and though something else of importance must be 
added to them, they are stiU very much worthwhile and will remain 
so. The Rajput has not often been noted for wisdom or intelligence, 
much less for discretion, yet wisdom without spirit and intelligence 

1. Refers to letter dated 23 January 1944 (No 356). 

2. Col. Janied Tod: a British civil servant in India and a scholar. Author of Amah and 
Antiquities of Rajasthan (1832). 


42 3 

without daring are poor, weak companions, symbols of age and not 
of vouth both in the individual and the nation. And the Rajputs 
managed to preserve through a couple of thousand years or more 
magnificent bodily types before whom the average person of today 
in the East or the West seems puny and undistinguished. Tod is full of 
stories of Rajput women coming out in moments of peril and with 
sword and lance leading their troops into action. Also of course of 
that terrible thing — the Johar.^ 

Today, or, to be perfectly accurate, early tomorrow morning, we 
complete eighteen months since our arrest. How well I remember that 
morning when 1 bade you goodbye and 1 was driven away as the dawn 
was breaking. You were standing by the car and the last glimpse of 
you 1 had was when the car took a turn and passed on into the unknown. 

Altogether, I suppose — I have lost exact count — I have spent about 
ciglit years in prison. 

Your loving, 


Amnd Bhawan, 
18th February, 1944 

Darling Papu, 

Is it days or weeks or months since I have last written to you? I don’t 
know. I had lost all count of days and dates. I don’t really know what 
came over me. Looking back on it, 1 can only analyse it as utter utter 
weariness, so tired that my mind and my body refused to work, so 
tired that I could not rest, could not sleep, could not eat. One didn’t 
actually feel alive at all. Occasionally somebody would come and talk 
but I seemed to be so far away. I just couldn’t grasp what they were 
saying.The only thinking I could do was; God, how tired I am! It was 
as if a terrible blackness or nothingness had stolen over me. I felt 
almost like Eugene O’Neill’s Electra:^ 

1. A collective act of suicide through self-immolation by women of Rajput caste to 
escape capture and dishonour after defeat by enemies. 

2. Eugene O'Neill (1888— 1953): dramanst.The extract is from Motiniiiw Becomes Elcctra 



And day is night and night 
Is day again, and I have had no pleasure 
In sun or stars, for aU things were to me 
As nothing. 

And all this due to nothing more serious than sheer physical 
exhaustion. Only once before have I had a more or less similar 
experience — our last days in Prague just before I had my first pleurisy. 

I am only telling you all this because now it is all over. I have 
battled through the cloud and am again in the light and fresh air. 

This exhaustion was due to several severe strains happening one 
on top of the other. I am going to have a baby and then all the recent 
unhappiness at a time when every nerve and emotion was taut to 
breaking-point. Vatsala & Chhoti Puphi insist that I should go to 
Purandare^ in Bombay, for the event, which by the way is due in 
August or beginning Sept. Purandare says that I must be under his 
direct supervision from the six month onwards. So the programme is 
that I should go to Bombay as soon as it gets hot here ... I have sent 
Feroze to Bombay to see what can be done. 

Much love, 


Ahmadnagar Fort Prison, 
22nd February, 1944 

Darling Indu, 

It is just four weeks today from the day when your last letter^ came. A 
long interval for one who waits, and I feel a little neglected. Yet I can 
well understand the many reasons which may have come in the way 
of your writing — activities, preoccupations, people coming and going, 
and, above aU, the absence of the mood out of which a proper letter 

What strange and mysterious things are words! The spoken word 
is powerful enough but even more so is the written word, for it has 
more of permanence. Image of thoughts and impulses, of the treasures 

1. Dr N.A. Purandare: a well-known gynaecologist and obstetrician of Bombay. 

2. Refers to letter dated 23 January 1944 (No. 356). 



of memory and stored fancies, the prelude and foundation of action, 
an idol with clear outlines or shapeless, and yet full of the breath of 
life! As with so many things to which we grow accustomed — the stars 
in the heavens, and flowers and green grass, and mountains, and the 
gentle rippling flow of water, murmuring as it goes — and growing 
accustomed to them, our senses are dulled to their astonishing beauty, 
so also with words. But when, in the morning of the world, words 
and language first burst upon the mind of man, how great must have 
been the joy of this discovery, with what reverence he must have looked 
upon this mighty thing, coming to him out of the unknown! Inevitably, 
he praised the gods he worshipped and called this new power of 
expression the language of the gods. Carefully he treasured it in his 
memory and handed it on from generation to generation, and out of 
that arose the books he called sacred, the scriptures of various lands 
and religions. 

But words have become too common coin today, debased and 
often counterfeit, fit emblems of many of the human beings who use 

Latterly I have been developing a mood for some kind of creative 
writing work. There is an urge to put away books and to write oneself, 
and there also is a hesitation in beginning. Between the two there is a 
tussle and, almost as a neutral, I stand by and watch. I do not know 
how things will shape themselves in my mind, and which feeling will 
have the mastery. 

Your loving, 


Ahtnadmgar Fort Prison, 
29th February, 1944 
Leap Year’s Day 

Indu darling, 

At last your letter' has come and the coming of it has been a relief to 
me, for there are few greater burdens than the blackness of silence 
and absence of news, which may contain in its dark folds all manner 

1. Refers to letter dated 18 February 1944 (No. 359). 



of Strange things. The news that it contained was disturbing and 
soothing, an odd mixture of the two, and yet, in the balance, I felt 
soothed and comforted. How you must have suffered in mind and 
body during these weeks when an utter weariness and listlessness 
seized hold of you and life’s rhythm seemed to be interrupted. To 
some extent that is understandable in the circumstances, for a while at 
least. And yet I wish you were not quite so sensitive, so vibrant to 
external and internal stimuli, for this sensitiveness strains the nerves 
and makes us feel taut and rigid. It drains energy and makes us feel 
more exhausted than even action at its highest. 

Some people are not sensitive at all; thick-skinned and dull of 
mind and imagination, they go through life at a low level, accepting 
what comes to them without much comment or enquiry, and adapting 
themselves to changing circumstances. Who would change places with 
them, even if that means an avoidance of the pain and sorrow which 
seem to be so inseparably connected with life’s journey? And yet I 
suppose there is a middle way: to be in tune -with life, to be sensitive 
and receptive to what it offers in a thousand ways, to sense its sorrow 
and its ecstacy, and not to be overwhelmed with either. Thus, perhaps, 
we may attain a measure of equilibrium, and out of sorrow itself 
extract peace and calmness of spirit, and so may achieve a certain 
victory over ourselves and over circumstances, whose creatures we 
otherwise are. 

I am glad that you batded against the cloud that enveloped you 
and fought your way to light and air. There can be no submission to 
these mists and vapours of the mind, which rise up in all of us from 
time to time, whenever they find an opening, for submission to them 
is a denial and a suppression of the real spirit within us, and without 
that we become like empty shells. 

Your pregnancy explains to some extent these changes and feelings 
in you, for it is a vital time in [a] woman’s life, and this mysterious 
creation of a new life affects her mind and body in innumerable ways. 
Because of this I do not worry myself much. This act of creation, full 
of mystery as it is in human beings as in the simplest plant, is the 
fulfilment in some ways of a woman’s being. She should be at her 
best during that period, for then perhaps she is more in tune with 
nature’s ways than at any other time. 

I am glad you are going to have a baby. There is no reason at all 
why you or anyone else should be frightened at the prospect. It is 
true that your lack of robust health is a hindrance and special care is 



therefore necessary. But I have a feeling, and I have had it long before 
I heard of this occurrence, that it might actually do you good, even 
physically, to have a baby. In other ways also it should prove beneficial 
to you. So accept this fact with pleasurable expectancy and without 
any trace of fear or apprehension. 

But it is right that no risks be taken and every possible care provided 
for. I hope Feroze has succeeded in making suitable arrangements for 
you in Bombay. Remember that you must not stint money in this 
matter. Draw upon my account at Bachhraj’s unhesitatingly . . . 

I have previously asked you to send me some books from the 
Anand Bhawan Library. There are two of these I am mentioning again 

Thompson & Garratt’s Rise and Fulfilment of British Rule in India, 
and The Ten Principal Upanishads, translations by W.B. Yeats & Puroliit 
Swami. Both of them you will find in my room or dressing room. 

I have sent you back some numbers of Life, etc. This packet also 
contains Wendell Willkie’s One World. It is very well worth reading. 
This concept of one world hanging together, all inter-linked, is still 
quite diSicult enough for most people, in the East or the West, to 
grasp, even though they may hold advanced ideas. Even when it is 
pardy grasped intellectually, there is no emotional appreciation of it. 
Yet I think that tliis is the basic idea of our present-day world and 
unless we imbibe it, our other ideas are apt to be airy and without 

Love to you and Feroze. 

Your loving, 


c/o Mrs Hntheesin^, 
Cannichacl Road, 
24th March, 1944 

Darling one, 

Puphi must have written to you about Lin Yu-tang. I liked him 
immensely. He was rather like an Oxford don. That mild scholarly air, 
quiet and fbndUng his pipe. 

He was just as excited to be in Allahabad, or rather Anand Bhawan, 



as we were to have him there. When he arrived — Feroze, Rita & I 
had gone to receive him at the station — I introduced everybody but 
Dr Lin looked rather blank. Just as we were going up the bridge he 
suddenly stopped and asked, ‘Are you Indira?’ ‘Yes,’ I said. He grinned 
broadly & held out his hand. ‘Now I know who you are,’ he said, and 
we had to shake hands all over again! 

The day Dr Lin arrived we had an Indian meal at Anand Bhawan — 
not a great success as far as the food was concerned. For tea we all 
trooped to the Saprus. Next day in the morning I showed Dr Lin the 
Library and your room. He also went up to the roof, where we had 
put the Chinese flag next to our own tricolour. Later I took him over 
to the hospital for a few moments. Puphi came for lunch. In the 
afternoon Dr Lin was taken to see Malaviyaji. And later was the tea- 
party I had given ‘to meet’ Dr Lin. After dinner Feroze & I drove Dr 
Lin to the Curzon bridge. By that time the Lady Moon was peeping 
through the clouds and the river looked very lovely. Dr Lin enjoyed 
the drive and the moonlight. Early next morning he left for Benares. 
When we gave him the Hospital Visitors’ book, he thought it was the 
Anand Bhawan book and he wrote something like this: ‘What a thrill 
it is for me to sleep in the room in which Motilal Nehru slept, to see 
the desk at which Jawaharlal Nehru works and to browse amongst his 
remarkable collection of books.’ I didn’t like to tell him that he had 
made a mistake, so for the hospital I gave him a separate sheet of 
paper on which he wrote: ‘To the eternal spirit of the pure Lotus’, 
and he made a sketch of a lotus. Rather beautiful, I thought. 

Dr Lin was quite engrossed in his three daughters and terribly 
thrilled that two of them — aged twenty and seventeen respectively — 
had written a novel each. He kept on saying ‘Do you know anyone of 
seventeen who has written a novel?’ I had to admit that I didn’t. 

Much love, 


Rugby Hotel, 
28th March, 1944 

Darling Papu, 

We came up here yesterday. Neral was where we had to change to the 



Matheran (Hill) Light Railway. This train is the funniest thing — just 
like a toy. It goes at the rate of five miles an hour at its fastest. The 
route is rather nice, green woods brightened by the lovely orange 
blossoms of the flame of the forest and the deep red ones of the coral 
tree. There were also silk cotton trees and champas. And all along the 
route the tribes of children ran alongside the running train, offering 
grubby bunches of these flowers in exchange for a pice or two. 

Matheran^ is very very quiet. I think I am going to fike it. It is very 
woody and full of shady but rather small trees. Just outside our rooms, 
a white-whiskered bulbul has its nest. I spotted him almost as soon as 
I arrived. He has a cheerful song. A grouchy old Englishman told 
Rajabhai that there are all sorts of lovely birds here, including the 
paradise flycatcher. I’m all excited to see him. 

Rajabhai has brought his golden retriever. Spark, with him. 

Do you remember the uiurti that was lodged in the peepul tree 
in the Anand Bhawan compound but just opposite the Swaraj 
Bhawan portico? I had never seen it but Puphi & Bebee remembered 
having looked at it for years and years. This January, when Rajabhai 
& Chhoti Puphi came to Allahabad, Rajabhai had the uiurti dug out 
of the tree and brought it to Bombay. It now reposes on their 
verandah bookcase. 

Lots of love, 


Rugby Hotel, 
9th April, 1944 

Darling Papu, 

I have been reminiscing this evening. During my childhood I seemed 
to be so much older than other children are at the same age. Harsha is 
now nine and a half He is a complete baby and somehow one does 
not expect him to be otherwise. And yet, I was under ten when I was 
in Europe. I knew three languages and could roam around the town 
of Geneva, or London. In boarding school in Bex we had to manage 
ourselves, and much else besides, completely unaided. Did I not also 

1. A small hill station near Bombay. 



travel alone from Bex to Paris, where Dadu and all of you were staying 
just before leaving for London? I’m not sure of this. What an age ago 
it now seems! And what a strange thing is memory! Some things one 
remembers for no particular reason, quite unimportant and 
inconsequential events. Other seemingly more important and bigger 
events go completely out of one’s mind. 

Much love to you, 


Ahmadnagar Fort Prison, 
15th April, 1944 

Darling Indu, 

The last week has brought quite an unusual number of letters from 

In your childhood I suppose you were a little more self-reliant 
than children of your age in India. The credit for that should at least 
partly go to your parents. I remember when you started going to the 
Ecole International in Geneva. You were about eight and a half years 
old then. I accompanied you to school, came back, went again to 
fetch you for lunch, again took you to school, came back, & finally 
went at four to bring you back. I seemed to spend the whole day in 
moving backwards & forwards between our pension and your school. 
After a few days I decided to let you go by yourself. It was a slightly 
tricky journey as it involved a change of trams. I spoke to the tram 
conductor, who had come to recognise you and who promised to 
look after you. I do not think Mummie was overpleased at this 
arrangement. However it worked. The tram journey was really more 
complicated than a railway journey. Later we moved to our flat in the 
Boulevard des Tranches. From there you used to walk to your school, 
which was about a quarter of a mile away. 

Your loving, 




c/o Mrs Htitheesing, 
20 Camitchael Road, 
18th April, 1944 

Darling Papu, 

We came down from Matheran a day earlier than we had meant to 
do — that is, yesterday. 

Apart from the heat and the journey there was the worry about 
Bapu and the state of Bombay. We had got the very meagre news of 
Bapus illness on the radio on Sunday night. Bombay’s explosions' 
we heard and felt in Matheran. Only we did not know what it was. I 
was lying in bed reading just before tea when our building shook 
and all the windows rattled. I thought it was an earthquake and jotted 
down the time nine minutes past four p.m. by my watch. This was 
followed by distant rumbUng which was repeated several times. The 
radio gave us news of the explosion. The next morning there was no 
mail, no newspaper. I don’t think the censors will allow me to tell 
you more about things than has appeared in the papers — so I shall 
not attempt to do so. But the papers give very little inkling of the 
amount of work this tragedy has necessitated (does such a word exist 
or am I inventing it?). Great as is all the relief work of supplying 
shelter and clothes, food and medicine, how much greater and more 
difficult will be the problem of rehabihtating these thousands. Where 
will they live and what will they do — they have lost their jobs and 
many are from fairly well-off middle-class families. Very few will be 
able to retrieve any belongings from the ruins of their houses, shops 
or godowns. 

Since early this morning I have been trying to get into touch with 
people and organisations who are doing relief work. Finally I tracked 
down Hansaben Mehta^ who is in charge of the Women’s 
Conference’s relief work. I am meeting her this afternoon. 

20th April 

On the 18th I went to see the working of the A.I.W.C.’s [All India 

1. A fire broke out in a ship in the Bombay harbour on 14 April 1944, and caused two 
explosions in which 500 people were killed and 2000 injured. 

2 Hansaben Mehta- social and pohncal worker; participated in the struggle for fi-eedom 



Women’s Conference] relief office and then went around with 
Hansaben to one or two other places, ending up with Urmila Mehta 
who is in charge of clothing. Naturally I offered my services for the 
few days I shall be in Bombay, though it is not possible for me to do 
any rushing about. I helped Urmilaben a little but apparently this 
was enough to gain me a large volunteer’s badge! 

On the 19th, next day, we had an appointment with Nagindas 
Master, the Mayor, who took us with him on another tour of reHef 
centres. Mridu was with us. I brought Mridu home with me after tliis 
for a short while. At ten thirty I had to go again to help Urmilaben. 

At night I went to my first entertainment for months & months. It 
was a dance-drama ‘Kovalan’ got up by Mrinalini (now Mrs Vikram 
Sarabhai)^ and Budi (Nandita Kripalani). Ira Valdl^ also took part. Do 
you remember we met Mrinalini in Santiniketan on your last visit to 
Gurudev? It was, of course, long before her marriage. The whole 
Sarabhai clan came to Bombay for the first night. This South-Indian 
drama was originally being done for Malabar relief but since the 
Bombay tragedy, they decided to divide the proceeds between Bombay 
and Malabar. 

I quite Hked the show, perhaps more so because it is so long since 
I have been to any kind of show. And then I knew most of the 
performers and a large number of the audience. And it was good to 
meet old friends. Mrinalini is just a little too thin to be really graceful. 

Much love, 


7th May, 1944 

Darling Papu, 

This is a very brief note written in great haste. Yesterday’s paper came 
late last night & gave us news of Bapu’s release.^ Mr Vakil, Feroze & I 
are leaving in a few moments for Poona. 

1. Mrinalini Sarabhai: well-known dancer, married to Vikram Sarabhai, an eminent 
scientist and Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission 

2. Ira Vakil: daughter of the Vakils. 

3. Mahatma Gandhi had been imprisoned in the Aga Khan Palace in Poona and was 
released on 6 May 1944. 



This is just to send my love & to tell you that I am well. 

Much love, 


8th May, 1944 

Darling Papu, 

1 dashed off a brief note' to you yesterday morning. Almost 
immediately afterwards, we took the bus to Poona reaching here at 
three thirty p.m. I found a whole crowd here — Chhoti Puphi & 
Rajabhai vwth the two boys. Psyche, Bebee & Mrs Naidu, and a host 
of others . . . Soon Puphi arrived from Allahabad. Quite like the old- 
time gatherings — so, of course, we all missed you very much. Perhaps 
most of all Bapu. He asked so many questions about you and sent his 

When I arrived he was sitting spinning and gave me a big grin 
and the usual whack — only much much milder. He was looking very 
pale and weak and tired. Contrary to doctors’ orders he saw quite a 
lot of visitors and consequently felt very tired. I hope the doctors are 
going to be stricter in future. 

Sushila- has cut her hair and wears salwars. She is looking so different 
1 hardly recognised her — very pretty and ridiculously young, about 

Last evening we paid a visit to the Aga Khan’s palace to pay our 
homage to the place where Ba and Mahadevbhai were burnt.^ We 
took flowers and Sushila sang some slokas and the usual prayer that 
Bapu was in the habit of doing every day. 

What a hideous building is the Aga IChan’s palace! I am told that 

1. Refers to letter dated 7 May 1944 (No 367). 

2 Sushila Nayar: medical doctor and a close associate of Mahatma Gandhi; Union 
Minister of Health (1962-7). 

3 Refers to the cremation of Mahadev Desai and Mahatma Gandhi’s wife Kasturba 
Gandhi who were incarcerated, along with Mahatma Gandhi, in the Aga Khan 
Palace in Poona after the Quit India movement. Mahadev Desai died on 15 August 
1942 and Kasturba Gandhi died on 22 February 1944. Both were cremated in the 
grounds of the Aga Khan Palace. 



the inside of the rooms occupied by Bapu and his party looked much 
nicer because all or most of the furniture had been removed. 

Much love to you, 


Ahmadnagar Fort Prison, 
13th May, 1944 

Darling Indu, 

Bapu’s release and his iUness have naturally upset the stiU and rather 
stagnant waters of Indian life and there is a stir and an excitement and 
a going to and fro. Yet I wish our people would restrain their desire 
for darshan,^ etc. We are a terribly inconsiderate people where illness 
is concerned — or, rather, ‘inconsiderate’ is not the right word. We 
overwhelm the person who is iU with too much consideration. I think 
one of Bapu’s chief troubles has been this and he is seldom allowed 
privacy or rest. Crowds gather and gape and gaze at him, imagining 
that they are not interfering in any way. The worst offenders are those 
whom he encourages himself by his affection and personal interest. 
He has built up such a vast family and given a bit of himself to so 
many that each one of them considers it a right and duty to hover 
round him. 

Normally I would not worry about his health, for he has 
considerable powers of recuperation. But it is his age that troubles 
me. He is nearly seventy-five, a good age for India, an age which I 
certainly do not expect to reach. For some years past I have noticed 
the obvious effects of advancing age on his physical frame. What the 
last twenty-one months have done to him I do not know, but I can 
make a guess. I hope, therefore, that he will be strong enough to take 
absolute rest till he is fuUy recovered and that others AviU help him to 
do so. 

Your loving, 


1. Darshan (seeing), the act of viewing a sacred person or object. 

• PRISON walls • 


26th May, 1944 

Darling Papu, 

I have collected fixam Chhoti Puphi all the books on children and 
babies that she possessed and have brought them here. I am rather 
awed by the responsibility of bringing a new person into the world 
and of having complete control over his life. Mistakes, which seem 
small enough to grown-ups, might have a hfelong influence. It is so 
difficult to know, since there is so little we remember of our own 
earliest years. I am more concerned that the new individual should 
be a happy one than almost anything else. There is so much 
unhappiness in the world and so few happy individuals. One unhappy 
person tends to make another unhappy, unconsciously, of course. I 
have here Ethel Mannin’s, Commonsense and the Child and A. S. Neill’s, 
The Problem Child . ' Their argument is that the only way to ‘bring up’ 
a child is to leave it alone. NeiU runs a school on these lines — a fi'ee 
school, he calls it, in Suffolk. He claims to have cured all sorts of 
‘difficult’ children merely by allowing them to get rid of their 
repressions. The way Neill writes makes this method sound the only 
possible way to deal xvith children. And yet, the parent is not the only 
person with whom the child will come into contact. How can one 
reconcile a ‘ffee’ atmosphere at home with the usual orthodox school? 
Neill says that the child, if not forced to learn and have various subjects 
rammed down its throat, may start learning later but -will learn faster 
and with more lasting benefit. He says the child must not have any 
kind of discipline thrust on it. Let it be dirty, if it so wills — ^let it stay 
up until it is tired enough to go to sleep, provided always that the 
child’s wishes of the moment do not seriously affect your work or 
rest or sleep. Whatever method one means to follow must start firom 
the beginning, from baby’s earliest months. 

One has heard and read so many jokes about the club bore but I 
had never actually met one. We do not go to clubs and the like but 
Mr Vakil has a friend, a man who has taken a degree at Harvard and 
has travelled in America and Europe. Can he talk, as the Americans 

1. A. S. Neill (1883—1973): founder of Summerhill School, he advocated liberal ideas in 
education. The novehst Ethel Mannin’s book, Commonsense and the Child, was 
influenced by Neill’s ideas. 



would say! It is really quite wonderful to watch. This morning he 
came at about nine. He has been talking, believe it or not, all the time 
without pausing enough for anyone to say as much as yes or no. It is 
now one o’clock. 

Lots of love, Papu darling, 
Your loving, 


Ahmadnagar Fort Prison, 
27th May, 1944 

Darling Indu, 

I have been reading little lately and all the good books you have sent 
me repose in the bookshelf, which is over-full now. For the last six 
weeks I have spent a good deal of time in writing. I am beginning to 
tire of this and perhaps one of these days I shall put my pen and 
paper away and seek reUef in reading. I am not very satisfied with 
what I have written. Yet, even though it may not be up to much, it is 
a useful discipline for the mind. It forces one to think precisely and to 
express oneself clearly. Indeed there is sometimes an element of 
surprise in seeing one’s thought put on an attire of words and phrases 
and appear in black and white. Normally one thinks vaguely and the 
thought is all rounded up with no sharp ends; it fades off with wishes 
and odd fits of knowledge. In the old days education both in India 
and in Europe included a study of logic so that the student may know- 
how to think and reason clearly. In Europe this was Aristotle’s logic; 
India had and has her own system of Nyaya, which is still taught in 
the Sanskrit schools and colleges. Both these are out-of-date and far 
too formal in their approach. They tend to make the mind scholastic 
and rather rigid, and yet they served a useful purpose and did give a 
training to the mind. It is surprising how untrained most people’s 
minds are now, even the minds of otherwise well-educated people. 
We cannot go back to Aristotle or Nyaya but the modern substitute is 
a scientific training, and especially practical work in science. 

I remember, in my school days, there used to be a great argument 
in England, as elsewhere, of the relative value and importance of a 
classical and a scientific training. People used to grow quite excited 
and heated over it, each party or group emphasising the value of its 



owTi wares. I suppose science has now won all along the line and the 
classics are just tolerated. That is right in a way and it was inevitable. 
We simply can’t do without science and the old rigid methods of 
classical education isolated a person from the world of today. And yet 
science by itself is pretty dry and the scientist is not always the most 
lovable of men. He lacks something, the poise and calm outlook on 
life which the classics often gave. Compare H.G. Wells^ with Gilbert 
Murray.^ Well, I suppose, we must combine the two somehow. . . 

We have been here now for twenty-one months and three weeks. 
That reminds me that this is already my longest term. And then, 
previously, there used to be interviews and some kind of personal 
touch was kept up. Not so this time. 

How people must have changed, I often think, during these past 
twenty-one months or more. How you must have changed. When we 
meet, as I suppose we will some time or other, I shall be feeling about 
with the tentacles of my mind, trying to find what is new, what is old 
in you. So also with others. 

It is not merely the lapse of time that counts; it is what we have 
lived through that makes a difference. Recent years have been very 
abnormal and each one of us has a particular stock of experience and 
a store of feelings and impressions, each one of which has made some 
litde difference. And so strangers creep in where friends used to be. 

Your loving, 


Ahmadmgar Fort Prison, 
3rd June, 1944 

Darling Indu, 

I suppose it is right and inevitable that you should read books on 
babies and children. And yet there is always a possibility of overdoing 
this kind of thing — or rather of being so overburdened with advice 
that one’s natural common sense hardly functions ... I remember 

1 H G. Wells (1866—1946)- writer and novelist. His advocacy of the apphcation of 
scientific method exercised a deep influence. 

2. Gilbert Murray (1866-1957): classical scholar and distinguished mterpreter of Greek 



Betty & Raja mugging up such books together and referring to them 
for advice at every time. This very attitude of doubt and hesitation vdtli 
a tinge of excitement somehow affects the child sometimes in the ^vrong 
way, for children, like animals, are peculiarly susceptible to psychological 
states. The books you have been reading and which you mention are 
good in their own way and give a lot of sound advice. But it is as well to 
remember that many experts do not wholly agree with them and in 
fact there has been a tendency to turn away from this method of treating 
children. Probably it is a good method for the ‘difficult’ and ‘problem’ 
child, but many children are not, to begin wnth, problem children at all 
and in their case this treatment may not be wholly suitable. It may 
result in a normal child developing problem traits. 

Problem and suchlike children have, I suppose, always existed 
but undoubtedly they are peculiarly common in our present age, 
especially in Europe and America. They are the products of this age 
of transition where everything is changing so rapidly that it is difficult 
to have any standards of values to judge by. Also the small families 
which are so usual today — one child or two — result in problem 
children. A larger family, several children, has disadvantages but from 
the child’s point of view it is usually better and he has a more normal 
life with companions growing up with him. To some extent, but not 
wholly (except perhaps in a socialist country like Russia), school and 
a communal life can take the place of family life. 

Bertrand Russell says somewhere that parents are wholly unsuited 
to bring up .their children; they are too intensely interested in them 
to take a dispassionate view or to treat them normally. 

You say you want the child to be happy — of course. But then 
what is happiness? There is the solid content of a fairly prosperous 
pea.sant; there are higher grades of intellectual and emotional happiness. 
There is the happiness of the person who is drunk or who is under 
the influence of some drug. I suppose, if you analyse your mind, you 
will find that happiness is more often negative than positive — an 
absence of pain & suffering. And yet how is one to be happy if he 
knows and sees another in pain? A sensitive person will suffer 
continually on behalf of others. An insensitive person may escape that 
but at the cost of much that is fine in life. Long ago (probably 140 
years ago) Leopardi, the Italian poet,’ wrote to his sister on the occasion 

1. Giacoma Leopardi (1798-1837):authorofinany lyrics, some p.atrioric, and a prose 
work. Little Moral H ’orks. 



of her marriage: ‘Thou shall have children, either cowards or unhappy; 
choose thou the latter.’ That is perhaps an extreme view but there is 
some truth in it. 

Ultimately we cannot be really happy till the whole world is happy 
and that is a large order. Mere avoidance of unhappiness, not easily 
possible, may itself result in isolation and boredom and a malaise 
which is worse than definite unhappiness. We are so organically 
connected with others & with the world that we cannot both hve a 
full life and yet avoid the world’s ills. 

What then is one to do? That is a big question which has been 
asked almost since human beings began to think. It seems to me that 
the only thing to aim at is the power or capacity to extract happiness, 
or perhaps it is better to call it peace and calm, out of unhappiness 
itself Not to escape from anything but to face it and yet be above it in 
a way; not to be overcome by it and to retain in spite of everything a 
sense of life and its larger purposes, a feehng of life fulfilment. How 
to do that is a difficult enough job and each person has to learn for 
himself and it seems that only fife, with all its waywardness and shock, 
can teach. The most we can do is to prepare the background for it. 

Read your books by all means but do not attach too much 
importance to everything they contain. A story of Li-Po the great 
Chinese poet comes to my mind. A young man, desiring to become 
a poet, went to Li-Po and asked him how he was to train himself for 
the purpose; ‘Master, how can I become a poet.’ Li-Po said: ‘Read all 
the mles and books and then forget them and observing nature put 
your feeling in words.’ 

Your loving, 


Dtmlauin Lodge, 
Shiuaji Nagar, 
19th June, 1944 

Darling Papu, 

Bapu is here. He sent for us yesterday and we were with him for 
quite a while. He is looking so much better than when I saw him last, 
but still gets tired fairly quickly. 



I was rather amused at your picture of me, rushing to consult a 
book every time the child was naughty! Rajabhai & Puphi do rather 
go to extremes sometimes. They discuss something and for a while it 
is ‘the thing’, then the enthusiasm wanes and it’s completely forgotten. 
I do realise that the training of the child depends entirely on its 
individuality and personality, as well as its environment. But it is a 
help to know how other people tackle the various problems and 
difficulties that are bound to arise, and to know how other children 
have reacted to different kinds of treatment. 

You are right, my statement about happiness was rather vague. 
And when I started thinking about it, I got more and more confused. 
However, what I actually meant in my letter was not happiness in the 
widest sense of the word.^ I only meant the carefree happy-go-lucky 
joy that is full of wonder at the mystery of the world — only a few 
children have it and for only a few short years. But in India it is very 
rare indeed. You see children dressed in unwieldy grown-up clothes 
with solemn faces, like Htde old men and women. It is hardly their 
parents’ fault — the conditions of life are so difficult, there is a lack of 
aU social amenities. But I do feel that for a few years at least the child 
should have the world as his kingdom. AU too soon wiU come the 
realisation of the poverty and ugliness, of the many chains by which 
we are bound; social and economic and political, of the struggle that 
is life. But it is good to know that in the midst of aU this there is much 

Happiness is not content or satisfaction. I do not believe the 
insensitive can ever be truly happy. I feel that the ability to feel happiness 
is dependent on the abUity to feel sorrow. And only those who have 
felt deep sorrow can feel deep happiness. Both sensations, at their 
most intense, are sharp and fleeting. One cannot stay at the climax 
long. Sheer happiness may turn into joy or delight, or at worst, content. 
Sorrow gets duUed into melancholy. Each is a passing emotion, but it 
leaves us the richer for having experienced it. Lin Yu-tang quotes a 
seventeenth-century Chinese describing some happy moments — in 
each case it is an ordinary everyday occurrence — for instance. ‘To cut 
with a sharp knife a bright green w^ater-melon on a big scarlet plate 
of a summer afternoon. Ah, is this not happiness?’ 

Much love, 

1. Sec letters dated 26 May and 3 June 1944 (Nos. 370 and 372). 

■ PRISON Walls • 



Dunlavin Lodge, 
Shimji Nagar, 
21st June, 1944 

Darling Papu, 

Here is a quotation about books, from Anatole France.’ 

What IS a book? A series of little printed signs — essentially 
only that. It is for the reader to supply himself the forms and 
colours and sentiments to which these signs correspond. It will 
depend on him whether the book be dull or brilliant, hot 
with passion or cold as ice. Or if you prefer to put it otherwise, 
each word in a book is a magic finger that sets a fibre of our 
brain vibrating Uke a harp string and so evokes a note from the 
sounding-board of our soul. No matter how skilful, how 
inspired the artist’s hand, the sound it makes depends on the 
quahty of the strings within themselves. 

It is not at aU necessary for either Mami or Masi to come for my 
confinement. They dislike leaving their children and their home even 
for a short while. To come to Bombay will mean a long and 
uncomfortable train journey and needless expense. Then where will 
they stay in Bombay? As I shah be in hospital they cannot be with me 
for any length of time. I have tried to explain all this to Masi. Evidently 
she has not conveyed the message to Nani. I am writing to Nani. 

Much love, 


Alimadnagar Fort Prison, 
1st July, 1944 

Darling Indu, 

I hope that you have fixed up everything during your visit to Bombay. 

1 Anatole France (1844-1924). French novelist, noted as a free-thinker, sociahst and 



I do not know Shirodkar^ — ^never heard of him. That of course is not 
against him, for my kno\yledge and experience of the world of doctors 
and surgeons is strictly limited. Obviously in a city like Bombay there 
must be many competent gynaecologists. Purandare is good and 
experienced but he is not the only one. The main thing to do is to fix 
up definitely with someone and have the assurance that you can refer 
to him whenever necessary. 

It certainly will not be right for you to return to Allahabad for the 
confinement. Not that I think badly of the facilities available in 
Allahabad. But obviously Bombay offers many additional facilities 
and it is safer to be near these. There is really nothing to worry about. 
Your present health is excellent and this is the basic factor. 

I should Hke to have news of Rafi Ahmed and Raghunandan Saran. 
Both have been ill for a long time. Could you ask Feroze to find out? 

Your loving, 


Dimlavin Lodg, 
Shiuaji Nagar, 
15th July, 1944 

Darling Papu, 

Poona is perfectly dehghtflil. I am glad I came for even this short period. 

On Thursday the 13th — a taxi drove up and out came Bui. It was 
so unexpected — we were just thinking of collecting various articles 
that she had asked for. Bui is always so smartly dressed. Nobody 
could have guessed that she was coming from two years of jail instead 
of getting off the fashionable Deccan Queen!^ In jail she used to dress 
in smart and well-cut shorts or slacks most of the time. She was looking 
very well and chirpy and brown. She wanted to rush off to Panchgani 
immediately but it was too late for the bus so she left early next 

1. Dr V.N. Shirodkar: a well-known obstetrician and gynaecologist of Bomb.iy. Indira 
was considering having her confinement under his care as Dr Purandare was not 
certain he would be in Bombay at that time. 

2. Deccan Queen: express train which ran between Bombay and Poona. 



morning. She sent you her love and what she calls her usual messagi 
‘keep cool’. 

Here is a poem ofWalter de la Mare that I rather Hked: 


I sit alone, 

And clear thoughts move in me, 

Pictures, now near, now far, 

Of transient fantasy 
Happy I am, at peace 
In my own company. 

Yet life is a dread thing too. 

Dark with horror and fear. 

Beauty’s fingers grow cold. 

Sad cries I hear. 

Death with a stony gaze 
Is ever near. 

Lost in myself I hide 
From the cold unknown: 

Lost, like a world cast forth 
Into space star-sown: 

And the songs of the morning are stilled, 
And delight in them flown. 

So even the tender and dear 

Like phantoms through memory stray — 

Creations of sweet desire. 

That faith can alone bid stay. 

Cast off the cloak of the real 
And vanish away. 

Only love can redeem 
This truth, that delight, 

Bring morning to blossom again 
Out of plague-ridden night. 

Restore to the lost the found. 

To the blinded, sight. 



Mridu and the Sarabhais are back from Kashmir, Sheikh Saheb 
sent his salaams to you and the Maulana especially, and greetings to 
the others. Mridu stayed a day at the Sarans' in Delhi. Raghunandan 
Bhai has been iU for a long time — dysentery and all sorts of internal 
disorders. He is a little better now but still far from well. 

I had a letter from Barbara Hartland, the nurse Aryanayakam^ had 
suggested. But now that Shirodkar is providing his own nurse for ten 
days and after that there will be Anna, it seemed unfair to send for 
Miss Hartland as well. She is doing good and useful work — she is in 
charge of a children’s home run by the Friends’ Ambulance Unit in 
Contai, Midnapore. I should feel ashamed if she had to leave her 
work and come all this way just because of me. 

Much love, 


Abmadnagar Fort Prison, 
15th July, 1944 

Darling Indu, 

Now that you have made new arrangements with Shirodkar I feel 
much more at ease. 

I apply oil rarely to my head — usually about once a fortnight. The 
other day, in an attempt to do so, I put on a fair quantity of undiluted 
Dettol to the head! It was only after a little while that I discovered 
something was wrong. Again, later I reversed the process and put 
some oil in a tumbler of water for the purpose of gargling! Pretty bad, 
isn’t it? Though not quite as bad as it looks, for I keep the two in ver}^ 
small unlabelled phials and a mistake is possible. Still, I was put out 
by this succession of lapses. I remembered reading in an American 
magazine recendy about a chaplain who began to forget little things 
he had to do. Thinking that he might be suffering from overstrain, he 
consulted his doctor. There was apparently nothing wrong. However 
the investigation proceeded, various X-ray photographs were taken, 
and a faint shadow or some other indication was noticed in the region 

1 . Raghunandan Satan and his wife Raksha Satan: he was a Congtessman from Delhi 
and a close friend of the Nehtu family. 

2. E.W. Aryanayakam, of Sri Lanka, was Secretary to Rabindranath Tagore for some 
time and later an associate of Mahatma Gandln. 



of the brain. It was decided to operate and the beginnings of a small 
tumour were removed. He recovered rapidly and got back his memory; 
there were no further lapses. 

AH this does not mean that I am suffering from a softening of the 
brain or any other ailment. I think my mind and brain are in very 
good condition, and as for my body it is as fit as it has ever been. 

Some days ago I received three bottles of Mahabaleshwar honey 
either from you or from Betty. It looks good and is rather swanky as 
each bottle bears the name of a different flower — rose, akara, paiigla. 
What is the akara and the paitgla? I do not know them. But I had a 
shock when I noticed the price marked on one of the bottles. This is 
Rs. 7/4 and the bottle is a small one, not containing more than 1 14 lb. 
It IS scandalous paying so much for honey, especially in these days. 
Please do not send any more at this or hke price. Anyway this honey 
wiU last us a long time as we use it with all due care and reverence. 

Your loving, 


Dtmlauin Lodge, 
19th July, 1944 

Darling Papu, 

Darling, I was amused at your worrying about growing old so soon. 
Isn’t it funny how when one is very young, anybody just a few years 
older seems to be very old? There is rather a delightful story I 
remember coming across in a moth-eaten book some years ago. Two 
little chaps are discussing the age of a third, and the one reflectively 
remarks: ‘Well, I don’t ’zactly know how old Charhe is; but he must 
be very old, for he blows his own nose.’ 

As we ourselves gain in years, old age seems to recede further and 
further back. Now that in four years I shall be thirty, fifty seems to me 
to be quite young. My own ideas of old age have been modified 
greatly since I have heen observing our old man — ^Bapu. What a 
wonderfuUy clear brain he has! How straight he picks his way through 
the fine points and arguments, the sense and the nonsense that are 



talked to him. With what patience he listens to everybody and yet lets 
nobody confuse him — all these clever lawyers and politicians and 
other bigwigs. 

I am afraid I am to blame for the honey ... I wanted to send you 
one big bottle of rose honey — I was informed that the price of the 
small bottle was Rs. 3/ 12/-. However the honey was not available in 
the Mahabaleshwar shop so I just remarked that it was a pity since I 
wanted it for you. Apparently the Madhukosh people have taken 
matters in their own hands. 

You will remember I wrote to you some months ago’ about the 
murti that Rajabhai had had dug out of the peepul tree in Anand 
Bhawan and had brought to his flat in Bombay. Apparently everybody 
who saw it told him that he should not have done so, that it would 
bring ill-luck and that such lunrtis should never be disturbed, and so 
on. Both Rajabhai and Chitti“ were quite upset. The murti has now 
been removed from its place and is reposing in my suitcase waiting 
for someone to take it back to Allahabad when it will again reign 
supreme over the peepul tree. I am not sorry, for I did not much like 
the idea of its coming to Bombay in the first place, specially when 
Bebee told me how long it had been in our garden. 

With very much love and a big fat hug, 



Ahmadnagar Fort Prison, 
22ud July, 1944 

Darling Indu, 

I like de la Mare’s poem which you have sent me.^ Amazingly musical 
he is and imaginative, living on the borderland of fact and fantasy, 
with a secret nostalgic longing for some elusive feeling or emotion. 
His lines linger in the memory and often take one out of the present 
into a world of imaginative existence. 

I know Barbara Hartland quite well — that is to say I have seen her 
many times during the past seven or eight years. She used to work in 

1. Refers to letter dated 28 March 1944 (No. 363). 

2 Tamil for Puphi or aunt. Refers to Krishna Hutheesing. 
3. See letter dated 15 July 1944 (No. 376) 



the Friends’ Hospital in Itarsi and whenever I passed through Itarsi, 
and that was pretty often, she was almo